NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Private Schools Flourishing In China

May 9, 2000

China has long suffered from a dearth of state-run schools. But its economic future depends on increasing the number of skilled and educated workers. So it has lowered barriers to the establishment of private schools -- and they are booming.

  • China now has more than 60,000 private schools -- from kindergartens to colleges -- most of which have sprung up in the past few years.
  • At the higher levels, they largely attract students who fail to gain entry into state schools, which only have room for 10 percent of high school graduates -- and the well-managed private institutions are already pushing their state-run rivals to reform.
  • Under a half-century of Communist rule, state schools indoctrinated the young with socialist principles and funneled them into state-sector jobs after graduation -- whereas the private schools are easing the state's hold on young minds.
  • The private schools also challenge centuries of tradition that reserved education for the elite -- from the imperial civil service exams that picked only the most brilliant minds for civil service to today's exams that weed out all but the best test takers.

So, while private schools in the West are often bastions of the elite, China's serve a generation of have-nots who would otherwise lack opportunities for further study.

Source: Leslie Chang, "In China, Private Schools Spring Up to Fill Gap," Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2000.


Browse more articles on International Issues