Education in the Real World – Part 2/2

September 6, 2011

Compulsory education in China for primary education is from ages 6 to 12, and in 2001, there were 121 million students enrolled in this system.

Unlike the United States, almost half of those 121 million students dropped out of school at age 12 or entered vocational training, while the other half went on to the junior secondary education system, which educates ages 12 to 15.

Another 54.8 million children drop out of China’s education system at the end of the junior secondary system at age 15.

China’s senior education system educates about 12 million students ages 15 to 18, which means China’s top 10% of all students, while in America, the public schools are still struggling to teach 90% of the children that started school at age 6, and about a third are not interested for a variety of reasons such as the self-esteem parenting movement, hunger or safety.

In China, to be accepted into the senior education system, students must take an entrance test called the ‘Zhongkao’, which is the Senior Secondary Education Entrance Examination held annually in China to distinguish junior graduates.

While exams in China compare students so only the best move on, exams in America do not do this. Instead, exams in the US are used to measure the success of schools and teachers, and students are not treated as failures no matter what their score.

When a student fails in the US, the teacher is often blamed—not students or parents.

However, China’s school system operates mostly on meritocracy so only the best students move on, while the US keeps every student until age 18 no matter what their academic performance, attitude toward education or classroom behavior is.

The reason so many students are kept in the American education system is that there is no competition among students to succeed since the system is designed to make it look as if all students are equal.  Often, one student graduates at age 18 reading at a 4th grade level, while another from the same class graduates reading at the university level and these two students may have been taught in the same classrooms by the same teachers.

America does this so students will not be embarrassed or feel bad about themselves. Instead of failing the student, the US fails the teacher for what the student did not learn even if the student did not study.

In China, if a student stays in school and makes it into college, he or she can be assured to be ready for university work but in the United States over half of high school graduates cannot do university work and must take remedial classes before enrolling in university courses.  This creates a huge economic burden on America’s economy due to a majority of Americans refusing to accept reality that countries such as China accepted long ago.

Return to Education in the Real World – Part 1


This edited and revised post originally appeared on August 8, 2011, at Crazy Normal as Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 4


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.