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Education for Ethnic Minorities in China(I)
An introduction to China's education for ethnic minorities
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a unified country with multinationalities. Basides the Han nationality, there are other 55 minority nationalities, with a population of 108 million, which accounts for about 8.98% of the total . Education for ethnic minorities (EFEM) is an important component of China's educational cause.

The PRC was founded in 1949. it is after the founding of the People's Republic of China that EFEM has received the high attention and has ever been developed. Before 1949, most of the regions where ethnic minority people inhabited were comparatively backward socially and economically. Some were at the stage of feudalism and some were still in primitive society or at the end of slave society. Daily events were recorded by marking on wood or tying ropes. Modern education was entirely not in existence. In 1950, among the total number of students in institutions of higher learning, middle and primary schools, those of ethnic origins accounted for only 0.9%, 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. The percentage of students of the ethnic origins was then far lower than that of the ethnic population which was about 6% of the total. Throughout the country, there was not a single formal institution of higher learning for ethnic people.
After 1949, the Chinese government paid considerable attention to the development of EFEM. It convened many times the working conferences focusing on the topics of EFEM. In the Constitution, the Law regarding Ethnic Regional Autonomy, and the Law regarding Compulsory Education of the PRC, clauses for supporting and helping the ethnic people develop education have been clearly stipulated. Administrative organs were specially set up in the educational departments both at the central and local levels. Those organs are responsible for implementing the country's educational principles and policies for ethnic education and studying and solving the special problems relating to ethnic education. Ear-marked fund has been appropriated as special project subsidy to meet the expenditure needs of ethnic education caused due to the characteristics of ethnicity and locality.

After about 50 year's development, China's EFEM has witnessed a great achievement. EFEM of all levels and all categories has seen a great development. Some ethnic regions even have a higher development speed than the national average. According to the 1998 statistics, the number of ethnic students in schools of all levels reached 18.5322 million, which has increased by 16.92 times. The number of teachers of ethnic backgrounds reached 888400, which is 12.60 times by increase.

Statistics show, by 1998, of those accredited with administrative autonomy in the country, 241 counties have achieved the "two basics". ("two basics" refer to basically popularizing compulsory education and basically eliminating illiteracy.) This number accounts for 34.4% of the total number of counties with administrative autonomy.

An ethnic education system with the characteristics of ethnic minorities is basically established. According to the present statistics, 90704 primary schools, 11486 middle schools and 92 institutions of higher learning have been built in ethnic regions. Throughout the country, more than 20900 primary schools, 3500 middle schools and 12 institutions of higher learning have been build specially for ethnic students.

Schools of all categories and of all levels have trained a large number of ethnic people with special skills. These people in all walks of life have made a great contribution to the economic and social development of ethnic regions.


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