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School choice in China

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

This article examines school choice, one of the most debated issues in Chinese education beginning in the early 1990s. To start with, it depicts the origin of school choice. Secondly, the main reasons contributing to school choice are analysed: the disparity among schools, political and economic changes, the system of promotion to the next stage of school, and historical and cultural reasons. The reason why schools enrol school choice pupils is also analysed. Then, the reactions of the government to school choice, insisting on the policy of neighbourhood admissions, supporting weak schools, and encouraging the development of nongovernment schools, are analysed. Finally, the debate about school choice is discussed. To sum up, school choice in China is a completely urban phenomenon. It is a demand of social group with high social economic status. While the social gap widens, school choice is an unavoidable issue in education. Therefore, the problem faced by the government is not simply to prohibit it, but how to deal with it.


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