China, in a move nobody seems to have been expecting, is set to provide free senior high school education to poor students. The Chinese government wishes to further escalate school enrolments, the media reported on Tuesday.

Vice president of the National Institute of Education Sciences, Zeng Tianshan, pointed out that China’s senior high school enrolment rate is still lower than that in developed countries, reported. This, one would imagine, is because of the strikingly high poverty rate in China where poor students are still required to work instead of getting an education. If you are from the more rural parts of China it is even worse.

“The expansion of senior high school enrolment will not only help enhance the quality of higher education but increase the average years of schooling. Now the average is just 10.1 years. The development of senior high education is of great importance to improving the quality of the population,” Zeng said. The new Chinese plan proposes adding an extra two years of schooling to that average. Whilst the idea of 12 years of education may seem high we here in the United Kingdom will spend from ages 4 to 16 in school by law; the Chinese simply wish to match the western world on this.

By 2020, China will provide free senior high education to all students in the country, with the gross enrolment rate expected to reach 90 percent, or at least that is the hope.

China has adopted a double-track model for senior high education: the normal senior high education and a secondary vocational education.

Experts said enhancing the quality of senior high education in remote rural areas should be a top priority. As mentioned above it is here where there is a much higher likelihood of being poorly educated by bad luck of being born out in the country as oppose to near a larger city.

According to the communique of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, China will gradually exempt tuition fees in secondary vocational schools and give priority funding to poor students. This method will assure that there is less likelihood of the system being abused by people who do not need as much help with paying for schooling.

The exemption of tuition fees will benefit nearly 20 million secondary vocational students, nearly half of the population receiving free senior high education in China should the policy be successful.