Dropping out: why are students leaving junior high in China's poor rural areas?

Other title(s): Dropping out: why are students leaving junior high in China's poor rural areas?

Author(s): Chen, Xinxin; Brinton, Carl; Shi, Yaojiang; Yi, Hongmei; Rozelle, Scott; Luo, Renfu; Mo, Di; Zhang, Linxiu

Date: 2012

Pages: p. 555-563


Despite requirements of and support for universal education up to grade 9, there are concerning reports that poor rural areas in China suffer from high and maybe even rising dropout rates. Although aggregated statistics from the Ministry of Education show almost universal compliance with the 9-year compulsory education law, there have been few independent, survey-based studies regarding dropout rates in China. Between 2009 and 2010 we surveyed over 7800 grade 7, 8, and 9 students from 46 randomly selected junior high schools in four counties in two provinces in North and Northwest China to measure the dropout rate. We also used the survey data to examine factors correlated with dropping out, such as the opportunity cost of going to school, household poverty, and poor academic performance. According to the study's findings, drop out rates between grade 7 and grade 8 reached 5.7 and dropout rates between grade 8 and grade 9 reached 9.0. In sum, among the total number of students attending junior high school during the first month of the first term of grade 7, 14.2 had left school by the first month of grade 9. Dropout rates were even higher for students that were older, from poorer families (and families in which the parents were not healthy), or were performing more poorly academically. We conclude that although the government's policy of reducing tuition and fees for junior high students may be necessary, it is not sufficient to solve the dropout problem.

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