Education in Shanghai

Published on Author geeker

Shanghai's Missing Children

In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test in 2012, an exam administered by the OECD every 3 years to over 500,000 15- and 16-year olds from 65 countries around the world, Shanghai’s students scored highest in critical reading, math and science for the second time in a row. As a result, Shanghai has retained its reputation for “academic excellence and educational equity.”

Shanghai’s status as an leader in education, however, may be misappropriated because of the hukou system, the country’s household registration system in which citizens are only given access to subsidized education and health care in their hometowns. For a city with a population of 24 million, Shanghai only reports about 100,000 15-year olds, about the same as Greece, a country with half of Shanghai’s population. Because of the city’s large migrant population, around 1o million people, and the way the hukou system works, many teenagers leave the city and return home to finish high school before they turn 15. Of the migrant students that are given residency permits, favoritism is shown to the best and brightest students who have well-off parents. As Tom Loveless from the Brookings Institution puts it, “Shanghai should be commended for implementing some hukou reforms, but that does not justify PISA’s portrayal of Shanghai as a model of educational equity.”

Further reading

One Response to Education in Shanghai

  1. I’m not sure that other countries represent a random draw – they are likely biased to data drawn from the national capital, which in most countries has better parents (who push education) and better schools (that facilitate success by ambitious students). That doesn’t render such data meaningless: if you want an education system that “works” then Shanghai is large enough that there’s something systematic going on which education research / econometric studies might illuminate.