Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 75 ›› Issue (2): 318-331.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202002008

• Population and Urban Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of the spatial structure, mechanism and social-political effects of the high-quality basic educational resources in China

YUAN Zhenjie1,2,3, GUO Junwanguo4, YANG Yunying5, ZHU Hong1,2,3   

  1. 1. Centre for Human Geography and Urban Development, School of Geographical Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
    2. Guangdong Provincial Center for Urban and Migration Studies, Guangzhou 510006, China
    3. Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory(Zhuhai), Zhuhai 519082, Guangdong, China
    4. Yiyang Party School of City Party Committee, Yiyang 413000, Hunan, China
    5. Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia
  • Received:2019-07-29 Revised:2020-01-13 Online:2020-02-25 Published:2020-04-25
  • Supported by:
    Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province, China(2019A1515012102);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41701146);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41601133);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971184)


Education is not only important for strengthening a country's population quality and comprehensive power but key in reshaping the "man-land" relations in a country. This article reviews studies on the distribution of educational resources in both Chinese and Anglophone literature and summarizes the research gaps in the Chinese literature, which include but are not limited to the downplay of the analysis of mechanism and comprehensive effects of the spatial structure of educational resources. Employing different map-making technologies and mechanism-analysis methods, this article dives into three findings. First, though spatial features are slightly different between primary school level and middle school level, eastern regions generally have higher quality educational resources than western regions. In addition, urban agglomeration, including Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Shanghai-Ningbo-Hangzhou, and the Pearl River Delta, have an advantage in attracting and cultivating high-quality educational resources. Second, the quantity of high-quality primary school resources is positively correlated with annual per capita disposable income of urban households and number of full-time primary school teachers. The quantity of high-quality middle school resources is positively correlated with the comprehensive economic and social performance of the city. Third, when affected by multiple mechanisms, the spatial structure of China's high-quality educational resources is dynamic and deeply intertwines with the interrelations between cities as well as between the societies within each city. This article contributes both to the understanding of the unequal spatial structure of high-quality educational resources in China and to the analysis of complex socio-political effects on this transforming structure. Its findings encourage further research on the connection between the spatial structure of a region's educational resources and its cooperation and geopolitics as well as on the resulting social mobility among different social strata. Study limitations include: place-related elements, such as local political resources, were not sufficiently considered when selecting factors; there is a lack of longitudinal analysis; and not enough attention is paid to the combination of number-based data and geo-information-based data in analyses.

Key words: educational resources, educational equality, spatial structure, basic education