Education in Beijing

School system in Beijing

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Education in the People's Republic of China is a state-run system of public education run by the Ministry of Education. Beijing has a well-established system of education from early age to university. The government provides primary education for six years, starting at age six or seven, followed by six years of secondary education for ages 12 to 18. There are three years of middle school and three years of high school. Many parents choose to enrol their child in nurseries or kindergarten as well. The Ministry of Education reported a 99 percent attendance rate for primary school and an 80 percent rate for both primary and middle schools.

There is a law regulating Nine-Year Compulsory Education. In terms of access to education, China's system represents a pyramid. Because of the scarcity of resources, fewer students have access to higher education and student numbers decrease sharply at the higher levels.

Expat Kids

The first step to getting your child established is often picking a school or childcare organization. Along with the obvious educational benefit, the structure of school offers a soothing routine, built-in set of friends, and a crash course in how to interact in a new culture.

In preparation of leaving your current home, it is important to collect and preserve important documents. Each child should have a virtual portfolio with sections on:
Health (inoculations, allergies, etc.),
Education Records (transcript, education history), and
Identification (birth certificate, passport).

These files should be updated semi-annually to ensure they are complete and current. Also maintain information on how to obtain official paper copies of all documents. Note that if these files are in another language then the country you are moving to, you will need a certified translated copy.

Find a School

The first step is to determine exactly what you and your child are looking for. A public school? A private school? A religious affiliated school? An international school that caters to your child's nationality? Is there a language requirement? Does your child need to complete specific courses or have special needs?
Ask your child these questions as well. Keeping them part of the process will help them feel more in control in a situation that can seem completely overwhelming.

Once you have determined the type of school, you will need to check out your options. An internet search should be able to help you find what your new home offers. Parenting and expat forums are invaluable resources for recommendations and finding other parents you can connect with and share information.

If you are being moved by your company, the HR manager monitoring your move can usually offer advice and information on schools in the area. Your co-workers are also important resources for finding real life issues and positives in the new arrangement.

Before committing to a school, take the time to visit it with your child. Ask questions about the costs, services provided (particularly for expat kids), the curriculum, extracurricular, and expectations. It is important that it be a good fit for your child's happiness and success, hence your entire family's happiness and success.

Primary Education

Primary schools are tuition-free and located throughout the country. Parents pay a small fee per term for books and other expenses such as transportation, food, and heating. Students who need it from poor families received stipends. Children usually enter primary school at 7-years-old for 5 days a week. Some students enter pre-school earlier at 3-years-old. The school year is two-semesters and takes place over 9.5 months, beginning on September 1 and March 1, with a summer vacation in July and August and a winter vacation in January and February. Urban primary schools typically divided the school week into twenty-four to twenty-seven classes of forty-five minutes each.

Early education focuses on Chinese, mathematics, physical education, music, drawing, and elementary instruction in nature, history, and geography, combined with practical work experiences around the school compound. A foreign language, often English, is introduced in about the third grade. Chinese and mathematics accounted for about 60 percent of the scheduled class time; natural science and social science accounted for about 8 percent. Putonghua (common spoken language) is taught in regular schools and pinyin romanization in lower grades and kindergarten.

There are three types of secondary schools:
General middle schools - which offer college-preparatory courses
Normal school - which prepare students to attend teacher training colleges
Vocational and technical schools

    Beijing Elementary Schools
  • Beijing First Experiment Primary School
  • Beijing Second Experiment Primary School
  • Beijing Haidian Experiment Primary School
  • Beijing Fuxue Primary School
  • Beijing Jingshan School
  • Beijing Primary School
  • Zhongguancun No.1 Primary School
  • Zhongguancun No.2 Primary School
  • Zhongguancun No.2 Primary School
  • The Elementary School Affiliated to Renmin University of China
  • The Experimental Primary School Attached to Beijing Normal University

Secondary Education

Junior secondary education is more commonly known as (junior) middle school education. It consists the last three years of nine years compulsory education. Senior secondary education (or senior middle school) is from grades 10 to grade 12. Normally, students who have finished six years of primary education will continue three more years of academic study in middle schools as regulated by the Compulsory education law at the age of twelve. Senior secondary education is not compulsory. From here, they can choose to continue a three-year academic education in academic high schools (which will lead to university), or to switch to a vocational course in vocational high schools.

High school generally has 2 semesters, starting in September and February. Number of lessons offered by school on a weekly basis is very subjective, largely depends on the school's resource. Academic curriculum consists of Chinese, Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, politics, Music, Fine Arts, PE, Technology, Computing with a focus on the first three.

A senior high school graduate will be considered educated. There is intense competition for university spots and there is incredible pressure placed on students.

    Beijing Secondary Schools
  • Beijing Chen Jing Lun High School
  • Beijing Huiwen Middle School
  • Beijing Jingshan School
  • Beijing No.2 Middle School
  • Beijing No.4 Middle School
  • Beijing No.5 Middle School
  • Beijing No.8 Middle School
  • Beijing No.9 Middle School
  • Beijing No.15 Middle School
  • Beijing 55 Middle School
  • Beijing No.80 Middle School
  • Beijing 101 Middle School
  • Beijing No.171 Middle School
  • Beijing Xicheng Foreign Language School
  • High School attached to Capital Normal University
  • High School attached to Tsinghua University
  • The Affiliated High School of Peking University
  • The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University
  • The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China
  • The High School Attached to Beijing Normal University
  • The Second High School Attached to Beijing Normal University
  • Beijing Dayu Middle School

National Higher Education Entrance Examination

Commonly known as Gao Kao, this academic examination is held annually in June the mainland of the People's Republic of China. This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. It is usually taken by students in their last year of high school, although there has been no age restriction.

The Exam is not uniform across the country, but administered within each province of China. The exam is administered for 2 or 3 days. Three subjects are mandatory everywhere: Chinese, Mathematics and a foreign language—usually English but may be substituted by Japanese, Russian or French. The other 6 standard subjects are 3 sciences Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and 3 humanities History, Geography and Political Education.

Scores obtained in the examinations can be used in applying universities outside mainland China. The examination is essentially the only criterion for tertiary education admissions. A poor performance on the test means there is no wya to enter university. If a student fails in their first attempt, they may repeat the last year of high school.

Higher Education

Beijing is the center of higher learning in China with over 70 universities and college. In 1985, the government abolished tax-funded higher education, requiring university applicants to compete for scholarships based on academic ability. There are also some private universities. Most of the universities are clustered in Haidian District in the northwestern part of the city.

There is a large populace of foreign students and almost all of the universities accept foreign students. Most foreign students are on Chinese language programs which can last from a few weeks to a couple of years. If you have a sufficient HSK level you can enroll in programs to study other subjects.



Early Chinese scholars had extensive private libraries, however, the first modern libraries did not appear till the late nineteenth century. China now has over 3,000 public libraries.

The National Library of China - Collection of 24 million articles. It ranks 5th among the libraries of the world. This includes the largest collection of Chinese books in the world, but also the biggest collection of materials in foreign languages in the country. It is open to the public 365 days a year with on-line services available 24 hours a day.

Update 12/05/2011


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