China versus United States Education System


Education is important in people’s lives, through education people develop their personalities and acquire new knowledge using different sources to improve it. John Dewey as American philosopher asserted that “Education is a social process. Education is growth and not a preparation for life. Education is life itself”. It is a continuous process of learning that starts from birth. Governments in countries try to develop their educational systems to help their people. Countries like the US and China make an effort to produce the best education for their students. Over the years development of education continues to grow and change to complement the current world. American education system reform is a controversial issue in the American government. Politicians, parents, students and teachers all want to be a part of the reforms.

Similarities and Differences between the US and China’s Educational Systems

The US and Chinese school systems have their different strengths and weaknesses that make them similar and have some differences. Chinese teachers are given more respect unlike teachers in the US, for example their salaries are not taxed and they have their own national holiday known as the Teachers Day on September 29th. Teachers in China also have a higher work ethics compared to their counterparts in the US, and it results to high student success in their examinations (Mondale 114). The Chinese education system has a standard education system for administering their tests, unlike in the US where they have state curriculums and tests.

The literacy rates in China are higher about 186 million, unlike in the US that has a literacy rate of 38 million. China has a strong value for education. Students work hard to achieve their goal in school and go an extra mile in attending extra tuition outside their regular schools. The literacy rate in females has grown over the years as more female students are interested in attending schools. Male students in the US tend to be more favored more than female students resulting to imbalanced sex in the schools and the literacy levels (Boers 58).

With the daily growing population of China there will be a higher number of students graduating from higher education than in the US. From the year 2000 to 2008, 1.14 million people graduated in science, technology and maths compared to the US with 496,000. This is brought about by the low number of students getting the cut off marks for attending higher education ventures because of the poor quality of schools and teachers (Pepper 67). In the US students who want to enter undergraduate programmers need to sit for SAT exams and score, so as to gain entry into the higher education centers (Hayhoe 74).

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Public in the US and China have a limit of what is to be taught and how it is to be presented. Some topics such as sexual practices are taboos to be taught, unlike private schools that choose whatever they can teach to children as long as it fits in the educational programme. In both private and public school it is necessary that they require a number of credits in the core subjects such as English, maths and sciences to graduate (Mondale 84). Public schools also tend to admit all types of students despite their statuses, discipline and ability to perform, unlike most private schools where only rich are the ones who can afford to be admitted. Admission into the private school usually requires an interview to gauge one’s performance. In both private and public schools tests are administered and transcripts are given for the different years of schooling. The rates of students joining higher institutions are low compared to the high numbers from private schools. Students in private schools tend to perform better than those in public schools because of the extra attention they are given and there is no laxity from the teachers (Mondale 117). The cost of education in private schools is also higher than that of the public schools. Disciplines are also handled differently, because those in public schools are governed due to processes and constitutional rights, unlike those in the private schools that are governed by contracts between them and their parents.

Study Abroad

Research indicates that only 1% of the United States students study abroad. This is mainly because most of the students that venture into study abroad programs from the US only take short courses that last between one or two terms. This information originates from the Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, which specifies the main countries that students from the US prefer to attend for the study abroad program. These countries include China, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom and France. The report also indicates that many students from the United States nowadays prefer to attend study abroad programs in countries that have less traditions such as areas where English is not primary language. Research opines that students from the United States have myriad opportunities to choose from, which range from curricular, cost, program sponsor, degree of integration and program model. However, the study abroad program can be categorically split into three classes that are program sponsor, duration and program model. On the other hand, China’s study abroad program is more or less like the US study abroad program (Mondale 114). This abounds from the fact that the country receives students from all over the world including the United States. Notably, a difference emanates from the fact that the country has traditions when it comes to its study program because of the different language spoken in the country. Thus, this avails myriad options of languages to learn while in the country. Research asserts that the country also has short study programs with a chance to undertake internships. China’s study abroad program facilitates students with hostels where they interact with each other.

Graduation Rates

There is a significant difference in the graduation rates of China and the United States. Despite the fact that the United States has been congratulated for its rise in the number of high school graduates, this does not compare with China’s number of college and university graduates. China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security indicates that the country has more than 7 million graduates every year. This trend is different from the United States that produces less college graduates (Mondale 97). According to research, the problem indicated for less college and high school graduates in the US is because of the increase in the number of dropouts.

Historical Development

There is a major difference regarding the development of the United States education and China’s system of education. China’s history of education dates back to 16th century during the Xia Dynasty. At that time, elites received the privilege of education as they were thought Confucianism (Hayhoe 72). This entailed a curricular that covered four books and five classics. From that period, education system in the country underwent several changes and the modern era set in around 1942. Research asserts that there were fewer kindergartens, secondary and primary school at that time. In 1978, the education in the country took a new turn as the country adopted a policy of reform that opened the country’s education to the outside world. A recent change in the country’s education system took place in 1999 as the CPC promulgated a decision meant for deepening of educational reform that geared towards the promotion of quality education.

On the other hand, the United States historical development of their education system dates back from 1635 after the foundation of the Boston Latin School. This was followed by the formation of grammar schools that were in larger cities around the 18th century. The government played a critical role in promoting education as it supported the establishment of public schools after the revolution. This ensured that the country had free elementary schools by 1870 (Mondale 85). Schooling became compulsory at the set of the 20th century as many states passed laws that ensured the same. However, high schools were established in 1910. A lot of racism and segregation marred the US educational system until the Brown v. Board of Education campaigned against the system. Standardized testing was mandated in 1965 by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. A further change took place in 2001 with enacting of the No child left behind Act (Mondale 74).


Both countries have almost similar curriculum as the systems in both countries expect children to commence free education from age of five to seven. This means that children in these countries have to start their education from pre-school level before they advance to elementary and primary education (Boers 147). This is then followed by high school and university or college education. Notably, post high school education in both countries comprises of various colleges or courses that students can undertake. These include vocational training, colleges and universities.


In conclusion, the United States and China education systems exhibit myriad similarities and differences. Major similarities depict in the country’s type of curricular that expects children to start education at an early age. Another similarity is that both countries’ educational systems are hugely funded by the government, although some private ownership of schools is allowed. Differences depict in the countries’ history regarding the establishment of formal education as China’s originated from Confucianism, while the United States originated from the formation of the Bolton School of Latin. Another significant difference in the education system of the two countries draws from the fact that China has an increasing number of college and primary graduates, while this number is relatively lower in the United States.