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Reform and Development     Preschool and Secondary Education    Vocational Education     Adult Education     Higher Education
Preschool Education          Special Education         
Distance Education

 

Reform and Development

Shortly after the founding of the PRC, the Chinese government took education as a matter of primary importance, and made enhancing the cultural quality of the people the basis of the construction of the nation. Before 1949, China had a population of nearly 500 million, of whom 80 percent were illiterate. Proceeding from reforming the educational system, the Chinese government made an overall plan and adjusted its educational policies, with the result that the number of students increased rapidly. Currently, 91 percent of the country has instituted compulsory primary education, nearly 99 percent of school-age children are enrolled in schools, the dropout rate has decreased and the illiteracy rate of young and middle-aged people has declined to less than seven percent. Since the initiation of the reform and opening policies in 1978, marked by the restoration of the higher-education examination system, China’s education got on the road to accelerated development. As one of the priorities of China’s economic and social development, education is a matter of great concern to the government. The decisive guiding principle that “Education should be geared to the needs of modernization, of the world and of the future” (Message written for Jingshan School by Deng Xiaoping on October 1, 1983) has promoted the speedy development of China’s educational undertakings.

China has attained considerable achievements attracting worldwide attention in education. According to the latest statistics, by the end of 1998 there were 1,022 universities and colleges in China, with 3.41 million students, of which 1.08 million were the year’s new recruits; 736 graduate training units with 199,000 students, of which 73,000 were the year’s new recruits; 962 adult higher-learning institutions with 2.82 million students, of which one million were the year’s new recruits; 13,948 ordinary high schools, with a total of 9.38 million students; 17,106 secondary special and technical schools and vocational high schools, with 11.26 million students (of which, 1.73 million were technical school students), accounting for 55 percent of the total students in high schools. And there were 54.5 million junior middle school students nationwide, with an enrollment rate of 87.3 percent; 139.54 million primary school pupils, with 98.9 percent of the school-age children enrolled. The dropout rates of the students of ordinary junior middle schools and primary schools were 3.23 percent and 0.93 percent, respectively. There were 2.51 million people studying in vocational secondary schools for adults; 86.82 million persons trained in adult technical training schools; and 3.21 million illiterate people became literate.

The cross-century period is an important phase in China’s economic and social development. Giving priority to the development of education is the basis of the two major national strategies of improving the quality of the people and rejuvenating the nation by relying on science and education and realizing sustained development. As human society enters the knowledge and information age, education is expected to play an increasingly important role.

Development of Schools at All Levels and in Various Forms

Year

Institutions of higher learning

Middle schools

Primary schools

Number of institutions

Student body (100,000)

Full-time teachers (100,000)

Number of schools

Student body (100,000)

Full-time teachers (100,000)

Number of schools  

Student body (100,000)

Full-time teachers (100,000)

1949

205

1.17

0.16

5,216

12.68

8.3

346.769

243.91

8.36

1978

598

8.56

2.06

165,105

663.72

328.1

949,323

1,462.40

52.26

1985

1,016

17.03

3.44

104,848

509.26

296.7

832,309

1,337.02

53.77

1990

1,075

20.63

3.95

100,777

510.54

349.2

766,072

1,224.14

55.82

1997

1,020

31.74

4.04

78,642

601.79

358.7

628,840

1,399.54

57.94

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Preschool and Secondary Education

China develops its preschool education in various ways, by mobilizing the resources of the whole society. While local governments run kindergartens, work units, social organizations and individuals are also encouraged to open kindergartens. Kindergartens apply the principle of combining child care with education, and ensure that the infants achieve all-round physical, intellectual, moral and aesthetic development, providing them with a harmonious coordination of body and mind. With play as the basic form of activity, kindergartens create a good environment for learning and provide the infants with opportunities and conditions to exercise and display their abilities.

The state has worked out a qualification and examination system for kindergarten teachers. At present, there are 67 kindergarten teachers’ schools in China, and the infant education as an area of study in vocational high schools is considerably well developed. The Regulations on the Administration of Kindergartens, the Regulations on the Kindergarten Work, and other laws and regulations issued by the state have put kindergartens on the road to systematized scientific development.

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Vocational Education

The Chinese government issued the Vocational Education Law of the PRC in 1996, making explicit stipulations regarding the status, role, structure, functions and duties, management system and fund channels for vocational education.

China’s vocational education is mainly composed of advanced vocational schools, technical secondary schools, skilled workers’ schools, vocational middle schools, vocational training centers and other technical training schools for adults and training institutions run by social organizations or individuals. Vocational education is divided into three levels: advanced, secondary and primary levels, which coordinate closely with each other.

Advanced vocational education, the highest level of vocational education in China, is still in the initial stage. Conducted on the basis of the students having high-school education, it is an important part of higher education. At present, schools offering advanced vocational education are: 87 professional and technical colleges, short-term vocational universities and technical junior colleges; several dozen professional junior colleges, now undergoing reforms; 133 higher learning schools for adults (with 188 areas of study offered), where experiments in advanced vocational education are conducted; and 18 technical secondary schools which offer advanced vocational education classes. Their major task is to cultivate practical and technological specialists for the front line of the nation’s economic construction. In accordance with the development program for vocational education, the existing system of advanced vocational education is to be reformed and restructured, and supplemented with a small number of leading vocational secondary schools to promote advanced vocational education and gradually develop into colleges of vocational technology.

Vocational secondary education is the principal part of China’s vocational education. It has three forms: technical secondary schools, vocational high schools and skilled workers’ schools.

The major task of technical secondary schools is to cultivate secondary technical and managerial personnel for the front line of production. After many years of effort, there are now 3,206 technical secondary schools nationwide.

The restoration and development of vocational high schools began in the early 1980s. Because they have adapted themselves to China’s economic development and reform of the structure of secondary education, vocational high schools are developing rapidly. Now there are 8,500 such schools nationwide, with a total of four million students. They mainly train employees with high school educational level and certain professional skills. Compared with the low quality of professional teachers and textbooks, and simple and crude equipment for experiments and practice in the early 1980s, vocational high schools now have developed into well-equipped new-type schools with obviously improved quality of teachers and management.

Skilled workers’ schools are vocational secondary schools for cultivating technical workers. China’s first skilled workers’ school was established in 1949. Currently, there are 4,467 skilled workers’ schools nationwide, with 1.8625 million students studying 400-odd subjects.

To date, there are more than 17,000 vocational schools of various types and levels, 2,090-odd professional training centers, and over 400,000 training centers for workers and staff, technical training schools for adults and training institutions run by social organizations and individuals. Each year, millions of people are trained at the various training institutions and vocational schools. China has basically formed a vocational education system offering distinct advanced, secondary and primary levels of education in all trades.

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Adult Educational

Just after the founding of the PRC, when illiterates accounted for more than 80 percent of the nation’s population, the Chinese government called on the people to “develop functional literacy and gradually reduce illiteracy,” which was the beginning of adult education in China.

The purpose of adult education in China is to raise the educational level and that of professional technology, and the practical capabilities of the people who, while working, wish to change their jobs or are waiting for employment; provide literacy education for illiterates; continue to provide education for people who have left regular schools, in accordance with their educational levels; provide continued education for people who have received higher education to renew and expand their knowledge and enhance their professional proficiency; and develop colorful social and cultural life education to help all China’s people lead civilized, healthy and scientific lives.

Adult higher learning institutions include radio and TV universities, workers’ colleges, farmers’ colleges, colleges for managerial personnel, colleges for in-service teachers training, independent correspondence colleges, and ordinary colleges and universities offering adult education (such as correspondence departments, evening universities and teachers’ in-service training classes), supplemented by educational TV programs and higher-learning examination programs for the self-taught. Secondary schools for adult education include vocational secondary schools, ordinary middle schools holding secondary vocational classes for workers and cadres, adult middle schools, adult technical training schools, farmers’cultural and technical schools and agricultural radio and TV schools, supplemented by the secondary vocational examination program for the self-taught. In addition, there are various face-to-face teaching schools and correspondence schools characterized by in-service training, guidance and other training. The teaching methods provided by these schools include full-time classroom teaching, and long-distance instruction for self-taught students by providing teaching materials, and audio and video materials. The study methods include full-time, part-work and part-study, and spare-time methods.

Education comes in two categories-general and specific. The former includes the regular college, junior college, vocational secondary school and middle school levels, and the latter includes elimination of illiteracy, rural practical technology training, on-the-job training, education for single-discipline qualification certificates, education for vocational certificates and postgraduate continued education.

In recent years, the units running schools for adults have made considerable progress in the acquisition and improvement of school buildings, teaching instruments and equipment, and the number and quality of teachers, and the quality of and benefits from schools are being continuously enhanced. Schools for adult education have become an important part of China’s education. In addition to schools funded by the state, there are 1,200-odd institutions of higher learning funded by society at large, of which 21 are qualified to issue academic certificates and diplomas. Besides, there are 30,000 schools giving short-term training, in-service training, continuation courses and guidance.

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Higher Education

In 1949, China’s grain output was 113.18 million tons, and that of cotton 444,000 tons; the agricultural foundation was fragile. Between 1950 and 1953, the Chinese government carried out a wide-ranging land reform in the rural areas. Peasants with little or no land were given land of their own, greatly arousing their enthusiasm for production. During the period of the First Five-Year Plan (1953-57), the yearly gross output of agriculture increased by 4.5 percent, on average. This period was the first “golden time” for China’s agricultural development.

From 1958 to 1978, China’s agriculture developed slowly. During this period, China practiced the cooperative and people’s commune systems in rural areas successively, which emphasized the effectiveness of centralized and unified management, but reduced the efficiency of resource utilization and allocation. As a result, the peasants’ enthusiasm for production was greatly dampened. In this period, the gross agricultural output value increased by only 2.3 percent, on average, every year.

The rise of township enterprises has promoted the all-round development of the agricultural economy. In 1987, the gross output value of township enterprises exceeded that of farming; in 1990, the township enterprises earned 13 billion US dollars from exports, about 23.8 percent of the national gross value of foreign exchange earned from exports. Thousands of towns are playing an important role in eliminating the differences between urban and rural areas, and promoting the integration of urban and rural areas. The per capita net income of peasants increased from 134 yuan in 1978 to 2,210 yuan in 1999.

The first stage of the "211 Engineering" project is nearing its end. In the course of five years of hard work, and on the basis of discussions and examinations by the related departments, about 600 projects concerning key disciplines have been listed for completion in 100 colleges and universities across the country. These disciplines cover humanities and sociology, economics, politics and law, basic sciences, resources and the environment, basic industry, new and advanced technology, medical science and hygiene, and others. The Ministry of Education demands that the second stage of this project be completed within five years. During these five years, the input into and support for these schools will be continuously enhanced. China will do its best to make the academic level of these key disciplines reach the state advanced level by 2005, so as to lay a foundation for making a number of universities match or nearly match the world’s first class universities around 2010.

As China established a socialist market economy system and deepened the reforms of various undertakings, the higher education system reform has become the crux of various reforms in higher education. The general objective for the reforms is to bring into better balance the relations between the government, society and institutions of higher learning, establish and strive to perfect a new system that, while still macro-managed by the state within an overall plan, turns institutions of higher learning outward to face society, and gives schools autonomy in providing education. After many years of effort, higher education has made considerable progress in the reform of management and investment systems, as well as in the personnel and distribution systems. In 1999, the Central Institute of Arts and Crafts was incorporated by Qinghua University, and in 2000 Beijing University and Beijing Medical Sciences University were combined to form the new Beijing University. At the beginning of 2000, the General Office of the State Council published Suggestions for the Further Speeding Up of the Socialization of Logistics of Universities and Colleges. This document put forward the task of realizing the basic socialization of university and college logistics in most parts of China within about three years, starting from 2000. The focus of the reform is the logistics of students' living conditions. The principle of mainly relying on and fully utilizing the abilities of society as a whole for the provision of new dormitories and other logistic service facilities is stressed, while the central, provincial and city governments should provide necessary financial support, in accordance with the different conditions. All student dormitories and other logistic service facilities shall be operated and managed using a new mechanism.

Also, it has taken a big step forward in the reform of the recruitment and employment systems of college graduates. In 1997, all the institutions of higher learning in China carried out the “combination of two categories” reform, that is, the students to be recruited were no longer divided into two categories-state planning and the regulatory planning-but all belonged to the same category and had to pay tuition fees. Schools provide loans for students who cannot afford to pay the tuition. In respect of the employment of recent college graduates, with the improvement of the labor and personnel systems, the work units and schools meet to coordinate supply and demand, and exercise a “two-way choice,” wherein work units may select their own employees and graduates may choose their employers. In addition, the state is to gradually carry out a system wherein college graduates may choose their employers under the guidance of state policies, with the exception of those students who are pre-assigned to specific posts or areas, who enjoy pre-assignment grants or special grants and are to be employed according to the contracts.

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Preschool Education

China develops its preschool education in various ways, by mobilizing the resources of the whole society. While local governments run kindergartens, work units, social organizations and individuals are also encouraged to open kindergartens. Kindergartens apply the principle of combining child care with education, and ensure that the infants achieve all-round physical, intellectual, moral and aesthetic development, providing them with a harmonious coordination of body and mind. With play as the basic form of activity, kindergartens create a good environment for learning and provide the infants with opportunities and conditions to exercise and display their abilities.

The state has worked out a qualification and examination system for kindergarten teachers. At present, there are 67 kindergarten teachers’ schools in China, and the infant education as an area of study in vocational high schools is considerably well developed. The Regulations on the Administration of Kindergartens, the Regulations on the Kindergarten Work, and other laws and regulations issued by the state have put kindergartens on the road to systematized scientific development.

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Special Educational

The Chinese government has all along paid great attention to special education. With the initiation of the reform and opening policies in 1978, China's special education entered a new development period. The state has issued a series of laws and regulations which make explicit stipulations on safeguarding the rights to education of the disabled, formulated a series of both general and specific policies for reforming and developing the sphere of special education, while earmarking special funds for this purpose. According to statistics, China has 1,426 special education schools for blind, deaf and mentally retarded children and teenagers, and some 5,400 special education classes attached to ordinary middle schools, with a total of 320,000 students. In addition, a large number of disabled children and teenagers study in ordinary schools. Currently, more than 1,700 rehabilitation institutions for deaf infants are operating in China, and over 70,000 children have been or are being trained there. Furthermore, there are more than 1,000 vocational training institutions for the disabled in China.

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Modern Long Distance Educational

In 1998, the Ministry of Education approved an experiment in modern long-distance education at Qinghua University, Zhejiang University, Hunan University and Beijing Posts and Telecommunications University. In 1999 and early 2000, the experiment was expanded to three other schools--Beijing University, Central Radio and Television University and China Accounting Correspondence School run by the Ministry of Finance. In 1999, the former four universities, the first group approved for the experiment, enrolled more than 900 students, who were taught through the Internet, and the Central Radio and Television University enrolled 40,000 students. Through two years of experiment, the schools have formed a teaching model via the Internet, and developed a group of related courses and resources, which played an important role in promoting the experiment. Besides, the Ministry of Education has started the Program of Training Tomorrow's Female Teachers, to train female teachers in primary and middle schools and support education in poor and western areas. To develop modern long-distance education and frame a lifelong educational system the ministry has earmarked special funds for the Plan for Promoting 21st Century Education to promote the development of the Cernet trunk network. Now the 155M experimental line of Cernet connecting Beijing with Shanghai and Wuhan, and Wuhan with Guangzhou is in operation.

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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.

 

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