The world population has crossed 7 billion. So competition for the best educational provisions and resources will increase, especially for girls and students in poor rural areas.
Consequently, there is a risk of education improving in cities and the education gap between rural and urban areas widening further. If China seeks to deliver good quality and relevant education to all, it has to make major reforms to ensure that access to and quality of education are improved for the poor. To address this challenge, China has increased education funding considerably in recent years and introduced long-term reforms to enhance quality of and fairness and equity in education.
The issue of fairness in education is vital and relates to unequal opportunities, highlighted by significant differences in admission rates for top universities between rural and urban students. It relates also to the need for fair assessment of students and schools both.
Chinese leaders in recent and past times have overcome the disadvantages of poor rural origins to achieve extraordinary success. But behind almost every story is the essential influence of not only individual personal qualities, but also the good fortune of finding an excellent teacher or school to support a student's progress.
Making good progress at school is key to finding a route out of poverty for many rural students; it is also a key indicator of school quality. But in China, the quality of a school is not measured by students' progress at school. In contrast, it is typically evaluated on the basis of only raw examination scores.
The problem with this approach is that rural schools with disadvantages tend to be judged unfairly, while complacency is possible when it comes to schools with more able students. And it's very difficult to know where the best educational practices are achieved despite limited resources, especially in rural areas.