What is the National Curriculum in China?
The Chinese National Curriculum covers primary, lower secondary and senior secondary school, and is split into eight “learning domains”, which are as follows:
- Language and Literature
- Natural Science
- Social Sciences
- Physical Education
- A Practicum (Specialised Course)
An interdisciplinary programme, the Chinese National Curriculum encourages an enriching, cross-curricular approach that aims to develop inquisitive thinkers rather than solely preparing students for the examination process. While exams remain an important aspect of Chinese education and progression, most schools now appreciate the need to help students develop into more rounded citizens.
Chinese educational standards and competition for the best senior secondary schools and universities remain high, but the focus has shifted to a more student-centric approach. Pupils are taught to become critical thinkers and problem solvers, rather than simply rote learners for the purpose of passing exams. This ultimately leads to higher-performing students.
Much of this reform in recent years has been pioneered in Shanghai, with the Shanghai National Curriculum, where schools are also currently implementing a new set of eight core competencies developed by the United Nations Education Committee. These are:
- Social Responsibility
- Civic Pride
- International Awareness
- Culture and Humanity
- Science and Technology
- Learning to Learn
With the standardised curriculum becoming more variable and diverse, the following are practical examples of what the Chinese National Curriculum looks like in the context of primary school, lower secondary school, and senior secondary school at Nord Anglia Chinese International School Shanghai.