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MOE: Survey of the Educational Reform and Development in China
I A brief introduction of the educational development
By the end of 2002, there were 1.17 million educational institutions of various forms and at all levels. Among them, 670,000 are regular schools and the rest 500,000 are adult schools. The total enrollment of students has reached 318 million, which ranks the largest in the whole world.
----In 2002, there were 111,800 kindergartens with an enrollment of 20,360,200 young children.
----A historic breakthrough has been witnessed in the universalisation of compulsory education. By 2002, there were altogether 456,900 primary schools with an enrollment of 121,567,100 students and the net enrollment rate of primary schools had reached 98.58%. 97.02% of the graduates enjoyed the access to junior secondary schools and the full-time teachers in primary schools had reached 5,778,900. In addition, there were 65,600 junior secondary schools with an enrollment of 66,874,300 students and the net enrollment rate of junior secondary schools had been raised to 90%. Those schools employed totally 3,467,700 full-time teachers and 58.3% of the junior secondary school graduates continue their study in senior secondary schools. By the end of 2002, the Nine-Year Compulsory Education (NYCE) had been universalized in the area where 90% of the population inhabits, the highest rate among the E-9 countries.
----Education at senior secondary stage has also made big strides. In 2002, there were 32,800 senior secondary schools including regular upper secondary schools, senior secondary vocational schools, regular specialized secondary schools, technical worker schools, upper secondary schools for adults and specialized secondary schools for adults. The total enrollment of these schools had reached 29, 081, 400 and the net enrollment rate was as high as 42.8%. Among the different secondary schools, there were 15, 400 regular upper secondary schools with an enrollment of 16, 838, 100 students and 15,900 secondary vocational schools, including vocational upper secondary schools, regular specialized secondary schools, specialized secondary schools for adults and technical worker schools, with an enrollment of 11,908,000 students. Besides, there were 15,000 senior secondary schools for adults with an enrollment of 335,200 students.
----Higher education in China has also made remarkable process and its quality has been continuously improved. By the end of 2002, there were 2003 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with a total enrollment of 16,000,000 students. With the net enrollment rate of HEIs of 15%, a mass higher education has been established in China. Guided by the principle of ‘joint establishment, adjustment, cooperation and mergence’ and after more than 8-years’ efforts, the management system of higher education has been deeply changed and the educational resources deployment has been optimized. 597 HEIs has been merged into 267. Among the 367 HEIs which were previously under the direct administration of central ministries, about 250’s administration has been shifted to the provincial governments, setting up the system of joint establishment by central and local governments. The previous disadvantage of irrational and segmented education structure, overlapped disciplines and waste of resources has been recovered. A new two-level management system consisting of central and local governments with the latter as the main management body has taken shape, mobilizing the initiative of the local government in developing higher education and enhancing the close relationship between HEIs and regional economic and social development. The quality of teaching and education provision by HEIs has been further improved and their research capacity has been developed as well. The commitment of HEIs to the national economic and social development has been increasingly expanded.
----The Chinese government attaches great importance to the eradication of illiteracy. Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the illiteracy rate was as high as 80%. Since 1949, 2300 million illiterates have become neo-literate as the result of an unremitting effort in literacy work. By 2001, the illiteracy rate of China has been reduced to less than 6.72%, and the illiteracy rate among the 15-50 age group has been declined to less than 4.8%.
----The Chinese government pays much attention to the rights of education for women and children. In 1949, the enrollment rate of primary school-age girl was merely about 15%. By 2002, the net enrollment rate of primary school-age girls has reached 98.53% and the gender disparity of enrollment ratio has been reduced to 0.09%, indicating gender equity. In 1951, girls only accounted for 28% of the total primary school students and in 2002 this proportion was raised to 47.2% which is higher than the international average of 45.7%. In 2002, female students enrolled in regular secondary schools reached more than 47.23% and that in HEIs reached over 44%.
----The Chinese government shows deep concern to the development of special education. In 2002, there were 1540 special education schools in China with an enrollment of 374,500 students. 68.29% of the disabled students involved in special education receive their education in regular classes and the specially affiliated classes in regular schools.
----The achievements in the education of ethnic minorities are enormous. In 2002, there were 12 colleges (universities) for ethnic minorities. 19,910,000 minority students received their education in educational institutions of various forms at all levels with 980,000 full time teachers. Among the students enrolled in HEIs, 541,000 were ethnic minorities, accounting for a 5.99% of the total enrollment.
----China is the country which sends the most students abroad for further studies and researches. In the last 20 years, 450,000 Chinese students have been sent to 103 countries and regions, among which 160,000 have returned after completions of their studies and researches. At the same time,this period has also witnessed the fastest growth of the number of international students since the founding of the People's Republic Of China .86,000 international students from 170 countries came to china for study in 2002.
----The Chinese government encourages and supports non-state/private entities to set up and operate educational institutions. By now, there have been 61,200 non-state schools of various forms and levels with a total enrollment of 11,159,700 students. Of them, there were 1202 non-state/private HEIs with a total enrollment of 1,403,500 students. In addition there are other 133 non-state/private HEIs authorized to award formal academic degrees, with a total enrollment of 311,200 students. Other 530,500 students are enrolled in facilitating classes for self-taught examinations. Moreover, there are 5362 non-state regular secondary schools with an enrollment of 3,059,100 students, 1085 non-state vocational secondary schools with an enrollment of 470,500 students, 5122 non-state primary schools with an enrollment of 2,221,400 students and 48,400 kindergartens with an enrollment of 4,520,000 young children.
----In China, intensive application of IT in education is being actively promoted and distance education is energetically developed. Since 1999, 68 regular HEIs and the China Central Radio and Television University (CCRTVU) have been approved by the Ministry of Education to carry out the pilot of modern distance education. By the end of 2002, 140 programmes in 10 disciplines had been developed with a total enrollment of 1,373,000 students. These 68 HEIs had opened 2027 learning centers outside their campuses and the pilot project had effectively promote the leap development from the second era of distance education featured by radio and television education to the modern distance education characterised by computer network. A modern distance education system consisting of 68 regular HEIs with their 2000 learning centers and the CCRTVU system, which covers the whole country, has taken shape. Moreover, the China Education and Research Network (CERNET), initiated in 1994, has developed into an operative education network consisting of three tiers, i.e. national level backbone network, local area networks (LANs) and campus intranet. The integration of CERNET and CEBSat, i.e. China Education Network with Satellite and Broadband, has constructed the transmission platform with space and land together, providing a support network environment for the modern distance education in China.
----In 2002, there were altogether 15,790,000 teachers in China, among which 12,390,000 were full time teachers. In 1985, September 10 of each year was named as the Teacher’s Day and this is the first time that a Day was set up for a profession. At the same time, the Chinese government is always committed to improving the social status and welfare of teachers. The Law on Teachers explicitly states that ‘Teachers’ average salary shall not be lower or shall be higher than that of the civil servants and shall be raised gradually’ and ‘Teachers shall enjoy equal medical care as the civil servant of the localities’. In order to improve the quality of teachers, a National Net Alliance on Teacher Training has been launched in China. This programme aims at developing teacher training through informationlization. By integrating the system of teacher training, satellite network and the Internet, it can provide continuous support and service to the teachers for life long learning and quality improvement. Teacher training can be then carried out at large scale in high efficiency with high quality. All the teachers in primary and secondary schools can receive training and further education, which can lead to a remarkable improvement of the overall quality of primary and secondary school teachers.
In 2002, the total educational expenditure of the whole country reached 548.003 billion Yuan (RMB), representing an increase by 18.16% compared with a 463.766 billion of 2001. Among the total expenditure, 349.14 billion came from the State’s fiscal resources, which indicated a 14.21% increase compared with a 305.701 billion of the last year. The input from the State’s fiscal resources accounted for 3.41% of GNP in 2002, which again represented an increase by 0.22% compared with that of 3.19% of the year before and marked as the highest proportion of GNP since 1989 when the index was first supervised. The goal of education finance set by the Chinese government is to try to raise the level of public expenditure on education to 4% of GNP within a relatively short duration.
The Chinese government prioritizes education as a fundamental and guiding cause with an overall importance to social and economic development. Financial input into education has been increased constantly by the Chinese government.
Educational expenditure comprises two parts, recurrent expenditure and capital construction expenditure. An educational budget includes a component on recurrent expenditure and a component on capital construction. The financial department and the planning department of the governments at various levels are jointly responsible for drawing up and submitting draft educational budgets to the People’s Congress at the sale level, which then is responsible to examine and approve the draft budget. Once an educational budget is determined, no governmental body or individual has the right to amend it without the approval of the People’s Congress concerned. In the process of implementing the educational budget, the financial and planning departments are responsible for monitoring and allocating recurrent funds and capital construction funds respectively.
With the establishment and perfection of socialistic market economy, a cost sharing system has been introduced into non-compulsory education. Tuition fees are charged from students at a reasonable percentage based on the full educational cost. Simultaneously, the Chinese government has also taken a series of policies and measures to ensure that students from economically poor background will not be deprived of access to education. Such measures include mainly a system of scholarships, part-time job facilitating system, special subsidiary system, remission or reduction of tuitions, and national educational loans. The implementation of these measures has effectively guaranteed that students from poor families can complete their studies successfully.
In 2003, guided by the grand objectives of establishing a well-off society, new progresses have been witnessed in educational reform and development based on the principle that education in China should be overall planned and oriented for the future and should be satisfactory for the whole public.
----In September 2003, the National Conference on Education in Rural Areas was held by the State Council. This is the first conference focused on education in rural areas since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The ‘Decision on Further Intensifying the Efforts on Rural Education by the State Council’ was promulgated afterwards, identifying explicitly the strategic status of education in rural areas as the ‘priority among priorities’ in China. Three grand objectives, namely a strategic breakthrough in the West, further consolidation and improvement, and deepening the comprehensive reform on education in rural areas, were finalized in this conference. This conference has promoted the overall development and improvement of basic education and rural education in China. In 2003, 51 more countries have universalized the NYCE and eradicated illiteracy among middle-aged and young group, among which 42 are in western areas.
In 2003, the earmarked fund from central fiscal to the compulsory education in rural areas was increased. By now, 3 billion RMB has been available for the second round of ‘National Compulsory Education Scheme in Poor Areas’. Additionally, the Chinese government also aims at allocating 6 billion RMB for the ‘Reconstruction Programme of Dangerous School Buildings in Rural Areas’. In 2003, 2 billion has been allocated already. Another 1.344 billion was contributed to the pilot of ‘National Modern Distance Education Programme in Rural Areas’. As a result, the pilot project, including 10,000 primary and secondary in countryside launched previously under the framework of ‘Modern Distance Education Programme in Western Primary and Secondary Schools’, has been completed successfully. The fund for free textbooks has been increased from 200 million to 400 million RMB each year. Students in 56 poverty-stricken countries in XinJiang have received free textbooks and remission of school fees blessed by the joint financial support from both central and local governments. Local governments also have increased their input into education and promoted actively the implementation of counterpart facilitation programmes. Universilisation of NYCE and eradication of illiteracy among the middle-aged and the young have been taken into reality in 86.6% of the countries in China.
----Higher education in China enjoyed a rapid development in 2003. The total enrollment of regular HEIs in 2003 reached 3.82 million, 617,000 more than that of last year, indicating an increase by 19%. The total enrollment of postgraduate students in 2003 has reached about 269,000, 68,900 more than that of last year, representing an increase by 34%. The total enrollment rate of HEIs of various forms has amounted to 19 millions and the gross enrollment of higher education has reached 17%.
----The establishment of world class university, the development of key disciplines and the training of high-qualified talents were intensified in 2003. At the same time, the efforts in implementing the Quality Programme in higher education was strengthened and the guidance and planning for the innovation of science and technology in HEIs and for the research of humanities and social science was improved as well. New progress was made in the reform of higher education management system and higher education structure adjustment, promoting further the real integration of merged universities. A leading mechanism and a policy framework for higher education graduates employment have taken shape. By this September, more than 70% of the newly higher education graduates has successfully found their employment, indicating a smooth development of graduates employment.
----In order to meet the requirement that vocational education should be more adaptive to the economic restructure and the development of townships, the national government calls for a new notion that vocational education shall be oriented by employment. Under this notion, the reform, restructure and development of vocational education will be fastened with the expectation that the overall structure of vocational education will be more reasonable with a better development trend.
----Efforts in administrating in accordance with laws and in developing legal system for education were further intensified in 2003. Obvious achievements have been made in the management of casual charge.
----Openness in education has been expanded and the international educational cooperation and exchanges have developed in more depth and at higher level. In order to protect the entitled rights of students and parents, efforts in reorganize the order of international education service has been strengthened as well.
During the process of implementing the strategy of ‘Rejuvenating China through Science and Education’ and ‘Develop China by Talent’ and developing an overall well-off society, the Chinese government will further promote the sustainable, healthy, cohesive and rapid development of education, build up a perfect national educational system and a lifelong learning system, produce billions of high qualified labors, millions of specialized professionals and a large group of outstanding innovative talents, and promote a close integration between education and innovation in science and technology, economic construction, culture prosperity and social development.
On December 30, 2003, the National Steering Group for Science, Technology and Education under the new cabinet held the second meeting and heard the report by the Ministry of Education on ‘Action Plan for Rejuvenating Education 2003-2007’ and ‘The Programme for Strategic Breakthrough in the Universalisation of Nine-Year Compulsory Education and Eradication the Illiteracy among Middle-aged and Young Group in the West’. The ‘Action Plan for Rejuvenating Education 2003-2007’ identifies the direction, tasks and objectives of educational development in China for the next 5 years, clarifying the detailed requirements for educational reform and development. Meanwhile, ‘The Programme for Strategic Breakthrough in the Universalisation of Nine-Year Compulsory Education and Eradication the Illiteracy among Middle-aged and Young Group in the West’ puts forward the details on the universlisation of NYCE and the eradication of illiteracy among middle-aged and young group in the western areas. The implementation of these two Programmes will play an important role in improving the overall national quality and pursuing cohesive and sustainable development of economy and society. The Ministry of Education will comply with the requirement set by the meeting and carry out the two programmes carefully from the strategic perspective of rejuvenating China through science, technology and education, developing China through talents, and promoting the process of Grand Western Development.
In the future, the educational work in China will follow the principle of ‘consolidating existing achievements, deepening reform, improving quality and pursuing sustainable development’ to promote the overall, healthy, rapid and sustainable development of education of various forms and at all levels.
The first priority is to promote the educational reform and development in rural areas. In China, 70% of the population inhabits in rural areas and the students in primary and secondary schools in rural areas have amounted to 160 million. 2004 will witness the implementation of ‘The Programme for Strategic Breakthrough in the Universalisation of Nine-Year Compulsory Education and Eradication the Illiteracy among Middle-aged and Young Group in the West’. It is planned that in the next five years, the universalisation of NYCE and eradication of illiteracy will be realized in the western areas so that all the children in the west can have access to education, fulfilling the purpose of the Programme. In those western and central areas where the NYCE has been universalized, the achievements are to be consolidated and quality of the NYCE and compulsory education should be further improved. In the areas with developed economy, the NYCE should be universalized at a higher level with better quality. At the same time, we will promote the development of Modern Distance Programme for Primary and Secondary Schools in Rural Areas and try to improve the management system for compulsory education in rural areas in which the county will act as the main management body
We will intensify our efforts in implementing the ‘Programme on Teaching Quality and Teaching Reform in HEIs’ and in the deepening of teaching reform in HEIs so that the quality of higher education and the quality of talents produced by higher education can be further improved. We will concentrate our resources to strengthen the efforts in developing world class universities and key disciplines. By carrying out the second round of 985 Programme and 211 Project, a system for key disciplines with reasonable structure and individual advantages and characteristics can be built up. In addition, the Postgraduate Education Innovation Programme, the Programme for Scientific and Technological Innovation in HEIs, the Programme on Higher Qualified Innovative Talents will all be continued in 2004 so that HEIs can become a forceful drive in the national innovation system and the land for gathering high qualified talents. It is expected that through these efforts, the capacity of national knowledge innovation and the capacity of training high level excellent talents will both be strengthened so that higher education can contribute its own commitment in terms of knowledge and talents to the overall comprehensive national capacity.
We will promote the close integration of vocational education and economical and social development. Focus will be devoted on the programme of training talents urgently needed by manufacturing industry and service industry and on the programme of training for the shift of rural workforce. Employment will be the orientation of vocational education. Vitality of vocational schools will be expanded for new development and breakthrough in vocational education to meet the sharply increasing need from the society on high qualified and skillful talents.
We will take full advantage of the valuable resources from the whole society, fully support and encourage the healthy development of non-state/private education. It is expected that a mechanism will be established in which public education and private education can jointly develop themselves, which then will lead to the continuous increase of educational services and the continuous deepening of educational reform.
We will implement the Programme on Quality Education in the New Century to development quality education at all levels so that the overall development of the students can be promoted and a solid foundation for their life long sustainable development can be established.
We will also try our best to serve the establishment of a learning society for lifelong learning, serve the remarkable improvement of national quality of morale, science, technology, culture and health, serve the establishment of a modern national education system, as well as the national science, technology and culture innovation system and serve the overall development of human beings.
We will carry out the Programme on Education Informationlization, accelerate the pace in infrastructure construction, resource construction and talent production and improve the overall application of IT in educational system.
We will implement the Programme on High Qualified Teachers and Teaching Management, improve the system of teaching training and life long learning of teachers, deepen the reform in personnel system and speed up our process in establishing a cohort of high qualified teachers and a high qualified management team.
We will continue the implementation of policies on graduate employment and intensify the construction of employment service system for graduates. The reform on graduate employment system will be accelerated and the guidance and policy mechanism for graduate employment will be improved so that the integration, openness and normalization of graduate employment market can be further developed. It is expected that a better information network and an improved guidance and service system for graduate employment can be built up.
We will deepen the reform on personnel system in education to improve the system and mechanism of talents. The strategy of developing schools through talents will be proactively promoted with the priority on high level talents. Various measures will be taken to train and attract more oversea Chinese talents.
We will improve the policy and system on facilitating students from poor families. National Loans for HEI students will be further promoted and the system of Green Pass will be improved to ensure that students in HEIs will not drop out due to the economic difficulties. The subsidy system for rural students from poor families to receive compulsory education will be improved. We will try out best to raise more funds to expand the coverage of free textbooks to guarantee the entitled right of compulsory education for the students from poor families in rural areas and students from low-income families in urban areas
We will adhere to the principle of comprehensive administration to deepen the efforts in managing casual charge in education. Our commitment in this aspect will be continued and a ‘Single Fee System’ will be disseminated nationally in compulsory education. The policy of ‘Three Limitations’ on public high schools recruiting students who select their schools will be improved and the fee charging by HEIs will be stringently restricted. All forms of expense apportion and hijacked fees will be prohibited. The efforts in governing the malpractice such as recruitment and examination will be intensified.
We will expand the openness to the outside world and strengthen the international cooperation and exchanges in the field of education.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the reform and development of education. The objective of developing a well-off society has already clarified that the strategy of ‘Rejuvenating China through Science and Education’ and ‘ Developing China through Talents’ has brought the valuable historic opportunity for the educational reform and development in China. We have every confidence that with the joint endeavour of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, the educational reform and development in China will surely experience a new and historic leap in the near future.