ABSTRACT

China’s ethnic minority population of over 110 million has enjoyed dramatic educational gains in the years since the beginning of the reform era, but most minority ethnic groups still have levels of literacy and educational attainment that are below the national average (N.A. 2000). Fourteen years after the Law on Compulsory Education came into force in 1986, only 85 percent of the Chinese population found themselves covered by the nine-year compulsory education provision (N.A. 2003). The remaining portion of the population, especially from the western regions of China, included diverse ethnic cultures, and new market forces presented significant challenges to the stated policy goals of universal access to basic education (see, for example, N.A. 2000c; N.A. 2001b).