context: Curriculum reform started with ‘Experimental draft of high school curriculum plan and curriculum standards’ in 2003. Following and pushing gaokao reform, the new plan will largely reshape high schools and the way students prepare for university.

Ministry of Education (MoE) has added German, French and Spanish to the foreign languages taught in high school, according to ‘Notice on curriculum plans for high schools and curriculum standards’. Growing international communication requires students to be taught more foreign languages, and more will be added in the future, says Wang Zhan 王湛 MoE Curriculum and Textbook Committee Group of Elementary Education chairman.

Curriculum structure changes fit alongside gaokao reform, says MoE spokesman in press conference, referring to ‘Implementation opinions on deepening reforms of the examination recruitment system’ issued by State Council in 2014. The new structure classifies courses into three categories: compulsory subjects for all students; optional compulsory subjects determined by provincial governments (students choose from a list to be tested on in the gaokao); and optional subjects set up by schools.

By reducing the credit ratio of compulsory-optional subjects required to graduate, the new standards leave space for students’ interests, says Wang.

The curriculum standards include 20 subjects

  • Chinese
  • art
  • music
  • fine art
  • history
  • ideology and politics
  • geography
  • general technology
  • chemistry
  • physical education and health
  • physics
  • biology
  • mathematics
  • information technology
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • English
  • Russian
  • Spanish