China needs more skilled laborers in order to sustain its constantly evolving economy. As Hessler highlights in Country Driving, an increasing number of Chinese men and women are leaving their home villages to take advantage of the economic opportunity in the developing urban regions. Rather than working in the advancing technology and services industries, these migrants are forced to accept elementary jobs such as waiting tables or cutting hair due to low-levels of educational attainment. Having exhausted most qualified candidates in urban areas, employers are now shifting their focus to rural regions.
Profuse factors contribute to the rural region’s educational deprivation. Rural high schools have insufficient facilities, curriculum, and teachers compared to urban areas. Additionally, some students lack the intellectually capability, and their parents perceive a higher benefit in having them work on the farm. Aside from the quality of education and capability, many rural students do not even attend high school because it’s so expensive. According to a Shaanxi high school student survey, a high school student in rural China has to pay as much as $160 a year for tuition. In response, China has implemented minimal financial aid packages to eliminate this financial constraint.
As a result, urban region employers are struggling to acquire qualified skilled workers. For China to meet the educational needs of the urban labor force, the rural labor force must increase the level of promotion from junior high school to academic high school. However, recent research suggests that “while 70% of graduates from urban junior high school were promoted to urban academic high schools, only 9% of graduates from rural junior high went on to attend rural academic high schools.” Ultimately, China’s rural education system needs to drastically improve and reduce this discrepancy if China wishes to sustain its current economic growth and urbanization.
Image Source: http://intled.blogspot.com/2014/04/sara-chinas-school-consolidation-project.html
Data Source: http://reap.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/REAP108-EN.pdf