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date: 12 December 2019

Ethnic Minority Education in China

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

Since the 1950s, China has had a “dual system” for the education of the country’s 56 ethnic minority groups. Though Article 4 of China’s 1982 Constitution states that “All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal,” the quality of education for ethnic minorities is lower than that provided for the Han majority. Linguistic, cultural, economic, and geographic differences among China’s ethnic groups have resulted in unequal educational opportunities and outcomes for different groups. Several factors contribute to these inequities: a shortage of qualified minority teachers, inadequate professional development for teachers, few textbooks and learning materials in minority languages, curricula that do not reflect local knowledge, limited use of educational technology in classrooms, and poor communication between schools and communities. To date, policies and regulations developed by the Chinese government to address these problems have met with limited success. If China’s ethnic minorities are to benefit from China’s rapid socioeconomic development and rising stature on the world stage, the education they receive must reflect more appropriate language policies, innovative teaching practices, and enriched learning resources.