All prospective teachers must pass the National Teachers’ Qualifications Examination. Additional requirements for each level of education are as follows:
Kindergarten teachers must be graduates of an infant normal school or upwards;
Primary school teachers must be graduates of a secondary normal school or upwards;
Junior middle school teachers or general knowledge and specialized course teachers in a primary vocational schools must be graduates of specialized higher normal schools, or other colleges or universities with two or three years’ schooling or upwards;
Senior middle school teachers or general knowledge and specialized course teachers in a secondary vocational school, technical school or a vocational high school, must be graduates of normal colleges or other colleges or universities with four years’ schooling or upwards;
Teachers at HEI’s must be postgraduates or university graduates; and
Teachers for adult education must be HEI graduates, or graduates of secondary schools or upwards depending on the level and category of the adult education.
Education in the People’s Republic of China has undergone dramatic transformations over the past two decades. The Ministry of Education is currently in the process of implementing it’s 9th 5-Year Plan for Education, which is aimed at universalizing its 9-Year Compulsory Education Program. Children ages 6 (or 7 in some circumstances) and older in China are currently guaranteed 9 years of tuition-free education, including 6 years of primary education. Schools are primarily run by the government, with the social sector providing assistance.
In the Chinese Classroom
While many schools in China continue to employ teaching exercises that emphasize rote learning, the Ministry of Education has begun to spread the use of group-learning teaching techniques that focus on communication and comprehension skills. In recent years, teachers from countries with group-oriented education programs have been invited to view the changes currently in place. While teachers in rote learning classrooms typically impose techniques upon students, the new changes open the door for a more engaging teacher role. In either case, Chinese education law states that, “Teachers shall be respected in the whole society.”
Local governments are mainly responsible for primary education, although nation-wide education management reforms have helped to make primary education programs more efficient and more accessible. In terms of material, primary education has become more focused on real-world applications, preparing students for continued education and for entry into the workforce.
The national government plays an important role in organizing secondary education; however, the Ministry of Education has recently sought to increase the number of semi-private and private schools, so that the social sector can take an increased responsibility for education. The Ministry of Education remains the ultimate authority for subject material in secondary education, which is more narrowly focused on real-world applications and vocational skills than the primary education system is. Elite secondary schools have been the first schools to undergo group-learning reform.
The number of both standard and adult Higher Education Institutes (HEI’s) in China have risen in the past two decades. Subject material has become more focused on science and technology, and both enrollment and graduation rates have increased. HEI’s are administered similarly to secondary education, with the government taking a lead role, and the social sector providing increased assistance.
While the Ministry of Education has certainly dedicated itself to universalizing its 9-Year Compulsory Education Program, there is clearly much work to do, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that the average schooling of adults sits at 6.4 years. This discrepancy, however, is expected to diminish as time passes and a larger proportion of the adult population has gone through the 9-year program. Additionally, while literacy rates have increased, China ranks 92nd out of 160 countries with a literacy rate of 86%.
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