Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 3/5

September 10, 2011

According to Alexa Olesen of the Associated Press, women are now a big part of the competitive education system in China.

Olesen says, “In 1978, women made up only 24.2 percent of the student population at Chinese colleges and universities. By 2009, nearly half of China’s full-time undergraduates were women and 47 percent of graduate students were female, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

“In India, by comparison,” Olessen says, “women make up 37.6 percent of those enrolled at institutes of higher education, according to government statistics.”

Aaron Brown of PBS Wide Angle reports how talented Chinese students that cannot afford to pay for senior high school earn scholarships from the government. Attending high school on scholarship in China means living in dorms.

Brown says, “Although China is now working toward developing its students creativity, its educational system is traditionally geared toward rote learning. Students are tested on how well they have memorized their textbooks and teacher’s lectures.”

One student in the PBS documentary, Gao Mengjia, says she studies daily for sixteen hours, sleeps for six and eats for one to two hours.


Another route to the top is to win a medal in a competition such as the National Mathematic Olympiad. Winning a gold or silver may lead to acceptance at one of China’s top universities.

In China, senior high school students may come from high ranked parents that are members of the Communist Party and who have traveled abroad to Europe/America

Through merit, peasant children from rural Chinese families that earn about $2,000 annually—enough to put food on the table for a large family (note: in most of rural China there is no property tax or mortgage to pay, since the land is owned by the village and government and may not be bought or sold)—may attend the same schools.

One sign of China’s merit based educational system are the number of women successful in private business.  Of the world’s 14 self-made women billionaires, six are Chinese (according to Forbes) while only three are from the United States.  Source: The Richest.org

In addition, China’s National People’s Congress, women make up 21.3% of the representatives while in the United States and India, the world’s two largest democracies, women fill about 10% of the seats in India and about 17% in the United States.

This goes to prove that success through merit does pay off compared to leveling the playing field with quotas.

Continued on September 11, 2011 in Wanted in China – “an education” – Part 4 or return to Part 2


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.

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