Is Schooling Free in China?

The Challenges of the Chinese Education System

For example, China has made great progress in enjoying this broad demographic dividend in its education coverage. But the issue of whether school really be free in China is a bit of a more complicated matter and deserves a much more detailed look.

Mandatory Education Policy

The Chinese Ministry of Education mandates that all children must complete nine years of education -- six years of primary school, followed by three for junior middle school -- under the Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China. This phase of education is not generally free of charge, so there are usually fees to attend public schools during these years.

Hidden Costs in Public School

While there are no tuition fees in compulsory education, families nevertheless end up with a range of things to pay. These could cover uniforms, textbooks and other supplies, as well as levies for school maintenance_InitStructure. These costs can be enormous for some cities and wealthier areas, which actually creates a whole affordability issue for lower-income families.

High School and Beyond: The Truth

Contrary to popular belief, post-compulsory education such as high-school senior secondary education are not free in China. Most high schools do require tuition fees that range widely with tuition fees often reflecting the perceived strength or prestige of the school as well as the region or type of school. Public High Schools in urban centers often incur the greatest costs—as compared to similar schools in less developed regions.

Tertiary Education Costs

By the same token, one cannot secure higher education in China without spending money on tuition fees. These fees have increased gradually over the years, with amount fees for licensing ranging dramatically from one university and program to the next. Higher education is expensive as it is, so students often have to procure scholarships, aid or be lucky and have financially capable families to pay for living expenses and tuition up front.

2 Private Education: A Growing Market Place

China has an explosive private education sector, from pre-school through university. Private schools, as opposed to public schools, charge tuition and other costs that is typically higher than that set by the government schools. These schools typically run more extensive programs or international curriculum, drawing higher paying families.


For the mandatory years is basic education are free (tuition), the practice is a lot more complicated when it comes to the higher educational levels. Families who are planning their children's education must understand the subtleties of this system.

For a more comprehensive overview of how things work inside Chinas education system, and just how those concealed costs and bills can very easily add up, check out the post is school free in china. The resource can provide good insights into the financial side of schooling in China, which families can use to better manage the financial resources for education.

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