The Ministry of Education (MOE) held a press conference on July 6 to review progress made in senior secondary education over the last decade. Lv Yugang, director-general of the Department of Basic Education under MOE, presented a report at the conference.
According to Lv, the quality of senior secondary schools has greatly improved, which has helped bolster the national strategy of talent cultivation and build a thriving talent pipeline to ensure a high-quality workforce for the country.
Since 2012, many systemic measures have been taken to deepen reform in senior secondary education, as follows:
(1) A number of major documents have been issued, providing further clarification regarding the objectives of senior secondary education. These include: Opinions on Deepening Reform of the Examination and Enrollment System; Scheme for Advancing Popularization of Senior Secondary Education (2017–2020); Guidelines for Promoting Teaching Reform in Regular Senior Middle Schools in the New Era; Curricular Programs and Standards for Chinese Language and Other Subjects Taught in Regular Senior Middle Schools; and Action Plan for Promoting Development of Regular Senior Middle Schools at the County Level During the 14th Five-year Plan. The documents have been implemented in senior middle schools nationwide with remarkable results.
(2) A holistic approach has been adopted concerning the management of regular senior middle schools and secondary vocational schools across the country, leading to substantial improvements in both the level and breadth of senior secondary education. Regular senior middle schools in China totaled 14,600 in 2021, enrolling 26,050,300,000 students. The gross enrollment rate of senior secondary education around China exceeded 90% in 2020, fulfilling the national target. This figure reached 91.4% in 2021, an increase of 6.4 percentage points over 2012.
(3) The overall investment in senior secondary education has increased significantly. Fiscal spending on senior secondary education grew from RMB 231.7 billion in 2012 to RMB 466.6 billion in 2021, recording an increase of over 100%. Several renovation and renewal projects were carried out in senior middle schools in underdeveloped counties, substantially improving school conditions.
(4) The fundamental role of the teacher workforce has been reinforced in senior secondary education. The number of full-time teachers in regular senior middle schools increased by 27.17% during this period, from 1,595,000,000 to 2,028,300,000, while the student-teacher ratio decreased from 15.47:1 in 2012 to 12.84:1 in 2021. The percentage of full-time teachers in regular senior middle schools meeting qualification requirements rose by almost 2.4 percentage points to 98.82%, while the percentage of teachers with master’s degrees rose nearly 1.5-fold from 5% to 12.4%.
(5) Teaching methods and educational philosophy have seen profound changes. Moral education has been integrated into all aspects of senior secondary education. A sound assessment system has been put in place to support the all-round development of students by eliminating distorted incentives related to grades or college access only. The examination system for admission to regular senior middle schools also underwent further reform, with a view to improving admissions procedures and offering a more equitable education.