CHINA: Minister logs education progress since 1949

Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping last week announced that China has more than 20 million students studying in 2,263 higher education institutions, compared with only about 120,000 students when 'New China' was born six decades ago.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Hao Ping said more than 220,000 foreigners were studying in China in 2008 and nearly 180,000 Chinese were studying abroad, compared with 33 and 35 respectively in 1950.

The figures reveal remarkable progress in education in the decades since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and especially since the late 1970s, when China initiated reforms and opening up policies.

Currently China's colleges and universities recruit more than six million students a year, with the enrolment rate standing at 23.3% of those who apply to sit the National College Entrance Examination, Xinhua reported. The country of 1.3 billion people now has more than 82 million employees with a higher education qualification.

In the six decades the illiteracy rate in the 15 to 45-year age group has been reduced to 3.58 - from more than 80% for Chinese adults when the New China was founded.

There are nearly 15 million teachers, up 930,000 in 1949, and currently 99.5% of school-age children access primary rate (against 20% in 1949) and 98.5% of primary school graduates are able to continue their studies at junior middle schools compared (up from 6%).