Chinese Education

3 Mar


The latest Programme for International Assessment (Pisa) results were released at the end of 2013. Pisa compares maths reading and science scores across the world. China topped the list across the board whilst the UK languished in 26th place below France, Ireland and many other European countries. The results for China however are misleading as the results actually relate to Shanghai rather than the country as a whole and therefore exclude rural schools and children (Sedghi et al, 2013). Despite this, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that even the poorest Chinese children are, on average, ahead of the best students in the UK (Paton, 2014). This shocking finding asks major questions of the UK educational system, but is there anything that can be copied from China to improve education here?


Jenkins (2014) describes Chinese schools as “communist drill halls, factories of pressure, discipline and childhood misery”. Whilst good at getting high scores, this form of education with long hours and strict rules is unlikely to be used by the UK government. In contrast many Chinese parents are actually looking to the West to see how the education their children receive can be improved (Kaiman, 2014). In China education is built up towards the gaokao, a nine-hour college admission test. The pressure of this test has led to a significant number of youth suicides (Kaiman, 2014). Some parents want to see the pressures of this test reduced and a new more creative educational experience put in place where the children are no longer fed the answers, but instead are encouraged to find things out themselves (Kaiman, 2014). Whether or not changes are made will depend on the Chinese Government but as China tops the tables (albeit unreliably) this change is unlikely to occur.


Jenkins, S. (2014), For Britain’s pupils, maths is even more pointless than Latin, [The Guardian online] Available from: [Accessed: 03/03/2014]


Kaiman, J. (2014), Nine-hour tests and lots of pressure: welcome to the Chinese school system, [The Guardian online] Available from: [Accessed: 03/03/2014]


Paton, G. (2014), China’s poorest beat our best pupils, [The Telegraph online] Available from: [Accessed: 03/03/2014]


Sedghi, A. Arnett, G. and Chalabi, M.  (2013), Pisa 2012 results: which country does best at reading, maths and science?, [The Guardian online] Available from: [Accessed: 03/03/2014]


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