China had 266,300 primary and junior high schools at the end of last year, 15,500 less than the previous year, according to the Ministry of Education.
The reduction was mainly due to closure of primary schools, which was down by 15,100. With urbanization, rural schools have been restructured or merged since 2002 to make better use of resources.
There were 12.77 million rural children attending primary and junior high schools in cities where their parents work, and another 21.26 million in rural hometowns.
The number of private schools and institutions grew slightly to 149,000, with more than 40 million students. The number of kindergartens also increased by 17,300.
China has compulsory free education for all children: generally six years of primary school and three years of junior high school.