China enjoys the world's largest high-level self-education system, with 56 of every 10,000 people in the country having attended self-study examinations for the equivalent of a college diploma.
According to Wang Minda, vice-director of the China Higher Education Self-Study Supervision Committee, more than 3 million Chinese have obtained diplomas over the past two decades without setting foot inside a classroom.
The committee offers tests in 230 subjects in 11 categories and the tests are open to everyone regardless of age.
Examinations for those who have pursued a course of self-study started in 1981, mainly in urban areas, as part of a government attempt to train more professionals for the country's modernization drive.
Those who pass the exam equivalent of a college degree are considered by education authorities to be college graduates.
Wang revealed that the self-study education system will be extended to rural areas with the building of examination service outlets.
Information technology will be applied in the new testing venues to facilitate the development of self-study education, which, according to experts, is playing an increasingly important role in China's higher education.
(China Daily 05/31/2001)