The Key Schools and Zexiao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


A key school system, started in the 1950s, stratified the public school system in China into key schools and regular schools. Despite an “official abolishment” of the system in the late 1990s, this system led to an enlargement of gaps in development between key schools and regular schools. On the other hand, the limited access to the key schools was commercialized by local educational administrations to seek rent for generating fund to develop the local public education sector. This caused competition for admission to key junior high schools in urban China. In this chapter, the author will review the history of the key school system and the expansion of gaps between public schools. Then, he will explain how stratification of the public school system and commercialization of the limited access to the key schools formulated inequality in admission to public junior high schools in urban China through analyzing the public discourses. In the end, he will untangle a rise of collusion between the key schools and cram schools in student selection for admission to public lower secondary education in urban China by analyzing interviews with school principals and managers of cram schools in Beijing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation in the Asia-Pacific Region
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameEducation in the Asia-Pacific Region
ISSN (Print)1573-5397
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9791


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