On the afternoon of September 26th，2019, Education Minister Chen Baosheng attended the second press conference at the Press Center for the Celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Reviewing China’s educational development over the past seven decades, Chen noted that China’s education system had undergone dramatic changes thanks to the relentless efforts of those working in the education sector. He added that educational achievements benefited every family and every individual.
Chen then summed up the achievements in five points:
First, China has built the world’s largest education sector with 519,000 educational institutions, 276 million students and 16.7 million full-time teachers.
Second, China has leapfrogged to the mid-to-top of world education rankings. Taking higher education for example. Over 60% of the country’s high-level talent work in higher education institutions (HEIs), which undertake over 60% of the country’s basic and key research projects, manage over 60% of national key laboratories and have won over 60% of prizes at the latest national science and technology awards ceremony. These numbers demonstrate the unparalleled contribution made by HEIs to the country’s overall strength.
Third, China has established a comprehensive and well-functioning education system with sound structure. Over the past 70 years, 270 million Chinese people in all received higher education and vocational education. In 2018, 48.2% of new entrants to the workforce had higher education qualifications with on average 13.6 years of education. This data shows that education is an important channel for human resource development.
Fourth, the education sector has increased international exchange at different levels, including basic, vocational and higher education. The high quality and distinctive features of basic education have been widely acknowledged around the world, as manifested by the introduction of various Chinese textbooks into overseas schools and the outstanding performance of Chinese students in PISA assessments. China has become the country of choice for the largest number of international students, and the most popular destination for foreign students from Asia. In addition, China has become a full signatory of the Washington Accord, an influential international mutual recognition agreement between national engineering regulatory bodies.
Fifth, China has established a financial mechanism that underpins the national strategy of prioritizing education. In 2012, the aim of raising government funding for education to 4% of GDP was finally achieved, and this percentage has been maintained above that level ever since. In 2018, the total expenditure for education reached 4.5 trillion RMB, with an average annual growth of 13.4% over 1949. Spending on education occupies the largest share in public expenditure. This financial support has spurred robust growth in the education sector.