Reports

Overview of educational achievements in China in 2016

Source: www.moe.gov.cn
2017-11-12

In 2016, China made huge strides in modernizing its education system through further structural reforms aimed at promoting equitable education for all and producing liberal-minded and well-rounded citizens. In particular, the quality of education was improved substantially, in line with the strategies proposed by President Xi in his Governance of China, as well as the Party’s educational policy.

I. Overall progress

In 2016, China had 512,000 educational institutions, 684 fewer than inthe previous year. 260 million students were enrolled in degree-granting institutions, an increase of 3.588 million students from 2015. Non-degree students numbered 53.255 million, an increase of 381,000 students compared to the previous year. The number of full-time teachers working at all levels in institutions was 15.782 million, an increase of 352,000 compared to 2015.      

The floor area in educational institutions across the country covered 3.26 billion m2, up 4.8% or 150 million m2 more than in the previous year. Assets in teaching and scientific research equipment totaled RMB 816.68 billion, up 12.2% or RMB 88.75 billion from the previous year.

II. Compulsory education

In 2016, further advances were made in compulsory education, with more students enrolled, better educational resources, narrower urban-rural gaps and more equitable distribution of educational opportunities.     

1. Schools and students

In 2016, there were 230,000 schools for compulsory education across the country, 13,000 fewer than the previous year, as well as 98,000 teaching points, marking an increase of 5,000 compared to 2015. The number of students in compulsory education was 140 million, an increase of 1.7%, or 2.382 million students from 2015.

The number of students enrolled and retained in primary schools continued to rise, especially in urban schools. In 2016, there were 178,000 primary schools, signaling a fall of 13,000 schools from 2015, enrolling nonetheless 17.525 million students, showing an increase of 1.4%, or 234,000 pupils, over 2015. Urban primary schools enrolled 5.918 million children, up 6.1%, or 342,000 more students than in 2015. The number of schoolchildren nationwide totaled 99.13 million, an increase of 2.3%, or 2.208 million pupils, year on year.

The number of students enrolled and retained in junior high schools also started to show an increase, especially in urban schools. In 2016, there were 52,000 junior high schools, 287 less than in 2015, enrolled 14.872 million students, an increase of 5.4%, or 761,000 students, over 2015. Junior high schools in urban areas enrolled 5.135 million students, up 10.8%, or 503,000 students, from 2015. The number of junior high school students totaled 43.294 million, up 0.4%, or an increase of 174,000 students, year on year.  

2. Higher enrollment and completion rates

In 2016, 99.92% of the school-age children across the country were in school, and the gap between the sexes was almost closed, with 99.91% of boys and 99.93% of girls enrolled. 93.4% of the students completed their nine-year compulsory education, up 0.4% from 2015.  

In 2016, the attainment of a junior high school level of education remained high across the country. The gross enrollment ratio in junior high schools was 104%, the same as the previous year. 98.7% of the schoolchildren went to junior high schools after finishing primary education, up 0.5% from 2015. 

3. Compulsory education for children of migrant workers

In 2016, governments at sub-national levels continued to implement favorable education policies and measures formulated by the central government for the children of migrant workers, whose number and proportion in host schools showed a continuous rise. A total of 13.948 million children received education in cities where their migrant parents worked (79.5% in state-run schools), up 2.0% from 2015, and representing 10% of all students in their host schools.

10.367 million schoolchildren were enrolled in host schools (78.8% in state-run ones), an increase of 232,000 students from the previous year, and 3.581 million students in host junior high schools (81.5% in state-run ones), an increase of 45,000 students from 2015.       

Geographically, 58.3% of the newly enrolled were in schools in the eastern regions. Inner-provincial migration was the major source of the transient students, with inter-county mobility accounting for 56.0% of them. The pattern was especially pronounced in central and western provinces, at 84.3% and 71.1%, respectively.  

4. Teachers

In 2016, the number of full-time teachers in primary and junior high schools was 5.789 million and 3.488 million, respectively, an increase of 104,000 and 12,000 teachers from the previous year. There was 1 teacher for every 17.1 schoolchildren and one for every 12.4 junior high school students, respectively, about the same as the previous year.

The number of teachers with an associate or college degree teaching the 9-year compulsory education continued to increase, with the fastest improvement in teaching credentials among the rural teacher population, closing urban-rural divide. In 2016, 93.7% of primary school teachers had an associate degree or higher, up 1.8%. The urban-rural gap closed 1.4% year on year to 6.2%, with 91.8% of rural teachers and 98% of urban teachers holding an associate degree. 82.5% of the junior high school teachers had a four-year college degree or higher, up 2.2%. The urban-rural gap closed by 1.3% year on year to 11.7%, with 78.6% of rural teachers and 90.3% of urban teachers having a college degree.  

5. School and class sizes

In 2016, schools for compulsory education continued to expand in size, while their class sizes remained stable. Regular primary schools had 558 students on average, an increase of 49 pupils on the previous year. Junior high schools had an average of 831 students, an increase of 8 students compared to 2016. The average class size for primary schools was 38 pupils, the same as the previous year, and was 47 students per class for junior high schools, down 1 student from 2015.   

In 2016, the proportion of large-sized classes continued to drop. In primary schools, 11% of the classes had 56 schoolchildren or more, down 1.1% from 2015, and in junior high schools, 17.8% of the classes were over-sized, down 2.1% year on year.

Investment in educational facilities continued to increase in schools providing compulsory education across the country, shrinking urban-rural differences. In 2016, the average value of equipment per student (AVE/S) in primary schools was RMB 1,201, an increase of RMB 156 or 15.0% over the previous year. The AVE/S in rural primary schools was 65.7% of that in urban primary schools, 7% more than that of the previous year. The AVE/S in junior high schools was RMB 2,010, an increase of RMB 264 or 15.1% over the previous year. The AVE/S in rural junior high schools represented 72.3% of that in urban junior high schools, 3.6% more than that of the previous year.

In general, schools providing compulsory education continued to make progress in their informatization drive, with the coverage of quality resources expanding and information technology being further integrated into teaching practices. In 2016, the average number of instructional computers per 100 students in primary schools increased from 8.5 to 9.5, and that in junior high schools rose from 12.7 to 13.9.

A high proportion of compulsory education schools provided internet access, and in this aspect, the gap between rural and urban areas was small. In 2016, 92.5% of primary schools provided internet access, an increase of 6.9% over the previous year. This number was 91.6% in rural areas, marking a fall in the urban-rural divide from 13% to 6.4%. In the same year, 98.4% of junior high schools provided internet access, an increase of 1.1% over the previous year. This number in both rural and urban areas stood at above 98%, showing a negligible difference between the two.

The proportion of schools with a local area network (LAN) continued to increase, though the urban-rural gap in this aspect remains significant. In 2016, 56.1% of primary schools and 74.6% of junior high schools had established a LAN, an increase of 10.2% and 4.8% over the previous year respectively. In rural areas, 51.8% of primary schools and 71.3% of junior high schools were equipped with a LAN, 28% and 15% below the rate in urban areas, respectively.

III. Preschool and special Education

1. Preschool education

In 2016, China had 240,000 kindergartens, an increase of 16,000 over the previous year. Children enrolled in kindergartens numbered 19.221 million, a decrease of 868,000 or 4.3% over the previous year. Those registered in kindergartens (including in nursery classes) totaled 44.139 million, an increase of 1.49 million or 3.5% over the previous year. In rural areas, children registered in kindergartens reached 28.228 million, an increase of 1.7% over the previous year, a lower percentage than in urban areas.

In the same year, the gross enrollment rate at preschool level was 77.4%, 2.4% higher than in the previous year, marking a positive step forward in providing adequate access to kindergartens. 98.4% of newly enrolled primary school students received preschool education, an increase of 0.4% over the previous year. The number of those who received preschool education per 100 thousand people was 3,211, an increase of 93 over the previous year.

Progress was also made in building a more skilled and better-educated teacher workforce, with the student-teacher ratio (STR) dropping continuously. In 2016, there were 2.232 million full-time kindergarten teachers across the country, an increase of 181,000 or 8.8% over the previous year. The STR decreased from 18.1:1 of the previous year to 17.6:1. The proportion of teachers with a college degree or higher increased from 73.8% of the previous year to 76.5%. In rural areas, the proportion of teachers with such a degree was 71.0%, 11.9% lower than that in urban areas, reflecting a sizable gap. 67.6% of full-time kindergarten teachers had received professional training in preschool education, an increase of 1.9% over the previous year.

2. Special education

In 2016, there were 2,080 special schools across the country, an increase of 27 over the previous year. Students registered in such schools totaled 492,000, an increase of 50,000 or 11.2% over the previous year.

Students receiving special education at primary level totaled 358,000, an increase of 39,000 or 12.2% over the previous year. Among these students, 54.6% (0.8% higher than the previous year) or 196,000 (an increase of 13.7% over the previous year) attended regular classes or special education classes in regular primary schools.

Students receiving special education at the lower secondary level totaled 123,000, an increase of 11,000 or 9.5% over the previous year. Among these students, 60.9% (0.9% higher than that of the previous year) or 75,000 (an increase of 11.1% over the previous year), attended regular classes or special education classes in regular junior high schools.

Students receiving special education at the upper secondary level totaled 10,028, a decrease of 39 over the previous year.

In 2016, there were 53,000 full-time teachers teaching special education programs, an increase of 3,000 over the previous year. Among these teachers, those having received professional training accounted for 69.0%, an increase of 4.1% over the previous year.

IV. Upper Secondary Education

In 2016, the total number of students receiving upper secondary education continued to drop, though at a lower rate, while the coverage was slightly raised, the quality of the teacher workforce improved, and school buildings and facilities further enhanced.

1. Increase in coverage of upper secondary education

In 2016, there were a total of 24,700 schools offering upper secondary education (including regular senior high schools, adult high schools and secondary vocational schools), an decrease of 234 over the previous year. Students newly enrolled totaled 13.963 million, a decrease of 16,000 or 0.1% over the previous year. Students registered in these schools reached 39.701 million, a decrease of 676,000 or 1.7% over the previous year. The average number of students registered in these schools per 100 thousand people stood at 2,887, a decrease of 78 over the previous year.

The gross enrollment rate at the upper secondary level was 87.5%, an increase of 0.5% over the previous year. There were 13,400 regular senior high schools across the country (an increase of 143 over the previous year), with a total of 8.029 million students admitted (an increase of 63,000 or 0.8% over the previous year) and 23.667 million students registered (a decrease of 78,000 or 0.3% over the previous year). There were 10,900 secondary vocational schools (including regular secondary technical schools, adult secondary technical schools, vocational high schools and technical schools) across the country (a decrease of 309 over the previous year), with a total of 5.933 million students admitted (a decrease of 79,000 or 1.3% over the previous year) and 15.99 million students registered (a decrease of 577,000 or 3.5% over the previous year). In 2016, students enrolled in secondary vocational schools accounted for 42.5% of all those enrolled in schools offering upper secondary education (a decrease of 0.5% over the previous year), while students registered in secondary vocational schools accounted for 40.3% of all those registered in schools offering upper secondary education (a decrease of 0.8% over the previous year).

2. Teachers

The number of full-time teachers in senior high schools reached 1.733 million in 2016, marking an increase of 2.3% or 38,000 more teachers than in the previous year, while the number of full-time teachers with Bachelor’s degree or higher rose 0.2% from the previous year to 97.9%. The STR declined from 14.0:1 in 2015 to 13.7:1 in 2016, reflecting an improvement in the deployment of the teaching workforce.

For secondary vocational schools, the number of full-time teachers dropped to 840,000 in 2016, marking a 0.5% decrease or 4,000 fewer teachers than in the previous year, while the number of full-time teachers with a Bachelor’s degree or higher rose 0.7% from the previous year to 90.8%. The STR declined from 20.5:1 in 2015 to 19.8:1 in 2016, and teachers with a “double qualification” accounted for 29.5% of all teachers, 0.8% higher than in the previous year.

3. Senior high school conditions

In 2016, senior high schools counted on average 1,768 students, which was 25 fewer students than in the previous year. The average class size in these schools was 53 students, on par with 2015 numbers, while oversized classes constituted 33.8% of the total, down 3.5% from the previous year.

The general conditions for senior high schools continued to improve with increased investments from government at all levels in 2016. The average floor area in schools per student stood at 20.8 m2, 0.9 m2 up on 2015, while the AVE/S arrived at RMB 3,325, marking an increase of 10.9% or RMB 326 on 2015. Every hundred students were equipped with 17.1 instructional computers, or 1.2 more than in 2015, while schools with LAN networks represented 88.6% of all senior high schools, 1.2% up on the previous year.

4. Secondary vocational school conditions

In 2016, the average number of students in secondary vocational schools was 1,525, or 17 fewer than in the previous year.

The average floor area in school per student stood at 18.3 m2, 0.9 m2 up on 2015, while the AVE/S arrived at RMB 5,695, marking an increase of 13.7% or RMB 685 on 2015. There were 21.2 instructional computers per hundred students, up 1.2 compared to 2015.

V. Higher Education

In 2016, program expansion in China’s higher education system remain steady, alongside structural optimization and improvement in completion rates, operational conditions and in the teaching workforce.

1. Higher education enrollment

There were 2,880 regular and adult higher education institutions (HEIs) across China in 2016. This means that compared to the previous year there were 36 additional regular HEIs (including 266 independent colleges) bringing the total to 2,596; of this number 18 extra were colleges or universities offering Bachelor’s degrees bringing their total number to 1,237, and 18 more, or a total of 1,359, higher vocational education institutes. For the same period, there was a total of 793 Institutions offering postgraduate programs of which 576 regular HEIs and 217 scientific research institutions.

The total number of enrolled postgraduate students reached 667,000, showing an increase of 3.4% or of 22,000 students, compared with 2015; of these 77,000 were doctoral students and 590,000 were graduate students reading Master degrees. As the national government has vigorously promoted professional degree programs at postgraduate level to foster a greater number of practice-oriented professionals, enrollment on professional Master’s degree programs reached 280,000, marking an increase of 1.5% on the previous year and representing 47.4% of all enrolled Master’s students, while those signing up for professional doctorate degree programs also went up 0.6% to 2,509, which accounted for 3.2% of all registered doctoral students. In addition, part-time Master’s degree programs recorded 129,000 registered students.

Total enrollment in undergraduate programs both in regular and adult HEIs fell 1.5% to 9.598 million, a decrease of 148,000 students over the previous year. This number included 7.486 million registered in regular HEIs and 2.112 million enrolled in adult HEIs, showing growth of 1.5% (108,000 students) and a decrease of 10.8% (255,000 students) respectively, compared with 2015 figures. 

2. Students currently enrolled on higher education programs

In 2016, there were 36.99 million students across the country, enrolled in one form or another of higher education. The gross enrollment rate rose to 42.7%, 2.7% up on 2015. 2,530 out of every 100 thousand people in the population were registered on some type of higher education program, marking an increase of 6 over the previous year.

The total number of current postgraduate students went up by 3.6% or 70,000 to 1.981 million, among which 342,000 were studying for Doctoral degrees and 1.639 million for a Master’s degree. Meanwhile, 582,000 students were recorded studying a Master’s part-time.

The total number of students currently enrolled in an undergraduate program in regular and adult HEIs went up by 0.6% or 190,000 to 32.802 million. Of this number, 26.958 million were studying in regular HEIs and 5.844 million in adult HEIs. Students enrolled in regular HEIs increased by 2.7% or 706,000, whereas those in adult HEIs fell by 8.1% or by 515,000, i.e. more sharply than in 2015.

3. Higher education graduation data

In 2016, 564,000 people graduated from postgraduate programs in China, marking a 2.3% increase or 12,000 more graduates than in 2015, of which 55,000 doctoral graduates and 509,000 Master’s graduates. The number of undergraduates gaining a Bachelor degree was 7.042 million, 3.4% up or 233,000 more than in 2015.

4. Teaching workforce in regular HEIs

With more faculty members holding degrees level or above qualifications, the quality of the teaching workforce in regular HEIs was further improved. The number of full-time teachers in regular HEIs reached 1.602 million, showing a 1.9% increase or 29,000 more teachers than in the previous year. The average STR for all regular HEIs was 17.8:1.The STR in colleges or universities offering undergraduate degrees remained at the same level as in 2015, i.e. 17.7:1, while the STR in higher vocational education institutes for the same period rose from 17.8:1 to 18.0:1.

In 2016, 69.9% of all faculty members in regular HEIs held a Master’s degree or above, up 1.6% from the previous year. The percentages for colleges or universities offering undergraduate programs and in higher vocational education institutes were 79.8% and 45.9%, showing a rise of 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively.

5. Regular higher education institution conditions

A substantial increase in government investments at all levels contributed to making a remarkable improvement to the capacity of China’s regular HEIs. Rapid progress was made in the provision of equipment and facilities for research and teaching, informatization and online courses, which helped to improve teaching quality.

In 2016, the average number of students per regular HEI in China was 10,342, an increase of 145 on the previous year. More specifically, the average number of students per undergraduate college/university and per higher vocational school was 14,532 and 6,528, showing an increase of 88 and 192, respectively, over the previous year.

There was a slight increase in the average school floor area per regular HEI student in 2016, which reached 14.2 m2, marking an increase of 0.1 m2 on the previous year. More specifically, the average school floor area per undergraduate college/university student was 13.7 m2, an increase of 0.1 m2, while the average school floor area per higher vocational school student remained at the previous year’s level of 15.3 m2.

Nation-wide progress was made in the provision of equipment and facilities for research and teaching. In 2016, the AVE/S in regular HEIs was RMB 13,845, an increase of 8.5% over the previous year. More specifically, the AVE/S in undergraduate colleges/universities and higher vocational schools was RMB 16,181 and RMB 8,570, an increase of 9.6% and 5.0%, respectively.

The level of informatization increased. In 2016, the average number of instructional computers per 100 regular HEI students was 27.0, an increase of 1.0 over the previous year. More specifically, compared to the previous year, the average number of instructional computers per 100 undergraduate college/university students and per 100 higher vocational school students increased by 1 to 27.4 and 26.0, respectively.

The average number of online courses per regular HEI in 2016 was 169.9, an increase of 11.3 over the previous year. More specifically, the average number of online courses per undergraduate college/university was 274.7, an increase of 10.6 over the previous year. The average number of online courses per higher vocational school was 74.5, an increase of 11.9 over the previous year though still markedly lower than in undergraduate colleges/universities.

VI. Adult Education and Training

In 2016, 8.629 million students were enrolled in China’s non-degree tertiary level education programs, and 9.363 million students graduated or completed their course. In the same year, 44.627 million students were enrolled in China’s non-degree secondary level education programs, and 47.206 million students graduated or completed their course.

In 2016, there were 93,000 vocational training institutes in China, a decrease of 6,000 compared to the previous year. The number of teaching and administrative faculty members was 451,000, of which 264,000 were teaching faculty members. 

In 2016, there were 12,000 schools offering primary level education to adults, with 833,000 students, 23,000 teaching and administrative faculty members and 12,000 teaching faculty members. There were 569 establishments offering high-school level education to adults, with 280,000 students, 2,779 teaching and administrative faculty members and 2,198 teaching faculty members.

The number of illiterate adults was reduced by 331,000, or 116,000 less than in the previous year. In 2016, 334,000 people attended literacy programs, a decrease of 141,000 over the previous year. In these literacy programs, there were 16,000 teaching and administrative faculty members, a decrease of 6,458 over the previous year, and 7,405 teaching faculty members, a decrease of 3,307 over the previous year.

VII. Non-state Education

At its 24th Session in November 2016, the Standing Committee of the Twelfth National People’s Congress considered and adopted the Decision on Amending the Law on the Promotion of Non-State Education of the People's Republic of China, which clearly established a separate management structure for profitable and non-profitable non-state education institutions. The State Council also issued policies to encourage non-governmental sectors to run schools and promote the healthy development of non-state education.

In 2016, there was a total of 171,000 non-state schools in China, an increase of 8,253 over the previous year. The number of newly enrolled students in 2016 was 16.403 million, an increase of 34,000 or 0.2% over the previous year. The number of students attending non-state schools was 48.255 million, an increase of 2.539 million or 5.6% over the previous year. More details are given below:

In 2016, there were 154,000 non-state kindergartens, an increase of 7,827 over the previous year, accounting for 64.3% of all kindergartens in China. The number of newly enrolled children in 2016 was 9.651 million, a decrease of 331,000 or 3.3% over the previous year. The number of children attending non-state kindergartens in 2016 was 24.377 million, an increase of 1.352 million or 5.9% over the previous year, accounting for 55.2% of the total number of children attending kindergarten.

In 2016, there were 5,975 non-state primary schools, an increase of 116 over the previous year, accounting for 3.4% of all primary schools in China. The number of newly enrolled students in 2016 was 1.278 million, an increase of 34,000 or 2.7% over the previous year. There was a total of 7.563 million non-state primary school students in 2016, marking an increase of 425,000 or up 6.0% over the previous year, and accounting for 7.6% of all primary school students.

In 2016, there were 5,085 non-state junior high schools, an increase of 209 over the previous year, accounting for 9.8% of all junior high schools in China. The number of newly enrolled students in 2016 was 1.887 million, an increase of 180,000 or 10.5% over the previous year. There was a total of 5.328 million non-state junior high school students, an increase of 299,000 or 5.9% over the previous year, accounting for 12.3% of all junior high middle school students. 

There were 2,787 non-state senior high schools, an increase of 202 over the previous year, accounting for 20.8% of all senior high schools in China. The number of newly enrolled students of that year was 1.029 million, an increase of 84,000 or 8.9% over the previous year. There was a total of 2.791 million non-state senior high school students, an increase of 221,000 or 8.6% over the previous year, accounting for 11.8% of all senior high school students.

There were 2,115 non-state secondary vocational schools (non-degree technical schools excluded), an increase of 110 over the previous year, accounting for 19.4% of all secondary vocational schools in China. The number of newly enrolled students in 2016 was 736,000, an increase of 27,000 or 3.8% over the previous year. The total number of non-state secondary vocational school students was 1.841 million, an increase of 8,000 or 0.4% over the previous year, accounting for 11.5% of all secondary vocational school students. Also, there were 221,000 non-degree students.

In 2016, there were 742 non-state colleges/universities (including 266 independent colleges of regular colleges/universities and 1 college for adults), an increase of 8 over the previous year, accounting for 28.5% of all colleges/universities in China. The number of newly enrolled undergraduate students in 2016 was 1.739 million, an increase of 19,000 or 1.1% over the previous year. The total number of non-state college/university students was 6.162 million, an increase of 197,000 or 3.3% over the previous year, accounting for 22.9% of all undergraduate students in colleges/universities and higher vocational schools. The number of newly enrolled postgraduate students was 348, and the total number of postgraduate students was 715. There were 813 other types of non-state higher education institutes, with a total of 756,000 registered students, a decrease of 22,000 over the previous year.

Also in 2016, there were 20,000 non-state vocational training institutes in China, with a total of 8.468 million trainees.