Boarding Schools in China

As of 2015 there were about 100,000 boarding schools in rural areas of Mainland China, with about 33 million children living in them. The majority of these boarding schools are in western China, which generally is not as wealthy as eastern and central China. As of 2015 many migrant workers and farmers in rural China send their children to boarding schools.

In addition to the rural boarding schools there are also boarding kindergartens in urban areas.

As of 2013 some children in urban areas are sent to boarding schools beginning at age 3. In 1949 the Chinese government established boarding kindergartens for orphans who lost their parents in preceding wars. The popularity of boarding kindergartens for wealthier families peaked in the 1990s, but the popularity declined afterwards, with some schools converting to day schools and others closing.

Rural boarding schools
The Chinese government began establishing boarding schools in rural areas and ethnic minority areas in the 1950s in order to give the children living there chances of getting formal education without having to move to urban areas. The establishment of boarding schools slowed during the Cultural Revolution, but other than that time, boarding schools had been established since then. Secondary boarding schools in centralized areas were established in the 1980s. These schools, covering junior secondary (junior high school) levels, are located in townships and towns.

Originally day schools and teaching points, very small education centers, served the educational needs of rural areas at the primary level. The teaching points, each staffed by one or two teachers, covered grades 1-3. Therefore, boarding schools at the primary level were uncommon in rural China.

The One Child Policy and migration into urban areas had caused a decline in the number of children in rural areas, and the educational quality between rural and urban areas varied significantly. The Chinese central government, as part of the 2001 Decision of the State Council on Basic Education Reform and Development, established a school merging program to consolidate primary-level village education. Beginning in 2000 many village schools have closed, and students were redirected to boarding schools. From 2000 to 2015, several thousand boarding schools opened, replacing about 240,000 village schools that had closed during the same period. The central government of China argued that replacing the village schools with boarding schools would allow resources to be used more effectively and increase the quality of the schools in the regions. Zhenzhou Zhao (趙振洲; Zhào Zhènzhōu), author of the 2011 research article "A matter of money? Policy analysis of rural boarding schools in China," stated that the real reason many village schools closed was because the central government had passed taxation reforms that limited the amount of revenues received by local governments; therefore the closures of the village schools and redirections of the children were done to improve the financial situations of the local governments, which were still responsible for the education of the children in their areas.

In 2007 53.6% of secondary students in rural areas in western China boarded at school, and 11.6% of primary students in the same areas boarded. In ethnic minority provinces such as Guangxi, Tibet, and Yunnan the general percentage of secondary boarders is over 70%, while the percentage of primary boarders was over 20%

For her 2011 research article Zhenzhou Zhao conducted interviews in boarding schools in Guangxi and Qinghai, collecting over 2,500 student questionnaires, 95 student interviews, 325 teacher questionnaires, 63 teacher interviews, and over 100 parent questionnaires; the data came from a total of 21 schools. Zhenzhou Zhao concluded "children's interests are ignored and their rights overlooked in educational policy formulation and enactment" and that the schools "fail to provide a safe, healthy environment or protect and enable students' human rights".