Significant Progress in Chinese Women's Education

September 17, 2015
Editor: Frank Zhao
Significant Progress in Chinese Women's Education

Over the past two decades, China has made significant progress in achieving the goals, in women's education, which were outlined in the National Program for the Development of Chinese Women. [Women Images]

Over the past two decades, China has made significant progress in achieving the goals, in women's education, which were outlined in the National Program for the Development of Chinese Women.

Under the combined efforts of the government and various NGO groups, China's educational fairness in terms of gender has significantly improved. By 2012, the average length of Chinese women's education has increased to 8.6 years. The gender gap between men and women's education averages 0.7 years. Female adult illiteracy rates are at 7.2 percent of the population for those aged 15 and over. The proportion of girls in schools at all levels of education is gradually on the rise, suggesting that boys and girls tend to have equal opportunities to compulsory education. According to data from China's National Bureau of Statistics, in 2013, the net rate of enrollment of girls in primary schools reached 99.72 percent, 0.02 percentage point higher than that of boys.

To help young women obtain equal opportunities, various drives have been launched. For instance, the China Children and Teenagers Fund, a subsidiary of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF), launched the "Spring Bud Program," donating over 1200 Spring Bud schools and funding over 2.4 million poor children by the end of 2013. The Red Phoenix Project launched by the Shaanxi Women's Federation subsidized 4,560 female college students with more than 19 million yuan (US $3 million) in total.

Coinciding with the deepening reform of the economic system in rural China, rural women have been playing an increasingly important role in the construction of a new countryside. As of 2010, some 3.55 million rural women, across the country, had participated in green-certification training, and they accounted for 40 percent of the participants. Data indicates 99.6821 million rural women participated in practical skills training, and they accounted for 46.6 percent of the total participants between 2006-2010. Meanwhile, women's federations at all levels have organized various training sessions on farming technology, entrepreneurship, transferred employment, and other skills. In the past five years, Women's Federations at various levels have trained around five million rural women and cultivated one million women engaging in entrepreneurial activities.

Women Outnumber Men

According to statistics issued by China's Ministry of Education in 2014, female students outnumbered men in junior college and undergraduate programs for the first time in 2009.

In 2012, female college students in higher education accounted for 51.4 percent of total enrolments, while female postgraduates accounted for 49 percent.

In the past, female students dominated a few disciplines, such as economic management and foreign languages. Now, the number of female students in science and engineering disciplines, such as automation, information engineering and electrical engineering, is increasing each year. In machinery disciplines, the number of female students equals that of men.

Statistics reveal, in 2013, there were 20.90 million female senior high school students, for 47.8 percent of the total. In 2013, there were 878,000 female graduate students in universities, for 49 percent of the total. Meanwhile, there were 12.77 million female junior college and university students, for 51.7 percent of the total. That was up almost 0.9 percent.

More Senior Female Talents

In 2011, the ACWF urged that a study regarding the measures used to spur the advancement of talented, high level females be included as a key component of the philosophy and social sciences studies administered by the Ministry of Education.

In the same year, the ACWF and the Ministry of Science and Technology jointly issued guidelines on enhancing the fostering of young female talents in science and technology. The number of women sponsored by the Young Scientist Foundation (under the National Natural Science Foundation of China) has increased 10 percent since 2010.

There are more than 20 million women working in the fields of science and technology in China. While they are making up a significant proportion of China's human resources in the fields of science and technology, they are performing all types of jobs, such as studying basic theories, developing applied technologies and advancing science and technology. Women in China play an important role in advancing the innovation of science and technology, and in the development of high and new technologies.

Challenges Ahead

Chinese women's education has improved and great progress has been made in women's studies thanks to the central government's gender equality-focused educational policies and NGOs' facilitative efforts. However, in China, gender equality awareness in education needs to be further strengthened. There still exists gender segregation between secondary vocational education and higher education. Female college teachers and researchers still face barriers in their career development. The discipline of women's studies is still marginalized in university education, and rural women's right to education in poor areas is still restricted.

Data Speaks

* By 2012, the average length of Chinese women's education has increased to 8.6 years. The gender gap between men and women's education averages 0.7 years.

* In 2012, female college students in higher education accounted for 51.4 percent of total enrolments, while female postgraduates accounted for 49 percent.

* In 2013, the net rate of enrollment of girls in primary schools reached 99.72 percent.

* Data indicates 99.6821 million rural Chinese women participated in practical skills training, and they accounted for 46.6 percent of the total participants between 2006-2010.

* In the past five years, Women's Federations at various levels have trained around five million rural women and cultivated one million women engaging in entrepreneurial activities.

(Women of China)

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