China has a long history of private education. Beginning almost two and a half millennia ago when the great philosopher Confucius (551-479 bc) founded the first private school and continuing through the mid-twentieth century, private education has played a prominent role in the provision of both higher and basic education in China. For example, in 1947, 79 of the 207 universities in the country were private, as were 56 percent of all primary schools and 84 percent of all secondary schools in Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Wuhan (Mei 1994).