This collection of articles selected from
Blue Book of Chinese Education 2015, published in Chinese, reviews the condition of China’s education development in 2014. The wide range of topics covered in this volume fall under two major themes: reform and equity. Chapters on reform focus on the college entrance exam (“
Gaokao”), secondary vocational education, senior high school education, provincially and locally-funded colleges, private universities and junior high school admissions policies. Chapters in the second half of the book provide readers with an in-depth account of efforts made to improve equity in special and early childhood education, study-abroad preparation classes, and rural education. The appendix includes a report of budgetary expenditure on education and chronology of major events.
The Implementation Opinions on Deepening Reforms of the Examination and Enrollment System (《关于深化招生考试制度改革的实施意见》) promulgated by the State Council and its pilot plans published by Shanghai Municipality and Zhejiang Province outlined the blueprint of China’s new Gaokao (College Entrance Examination), which used to be known as college entrance examination. Gaokao is a baton, and its reform influences China’s education as a whole. How will the new Gaokao guide the reforms of China’s basic education and higher education? What opportunities and challenges will the new Gaokao bring to examinees, teachers, as well as high schools and colleges? This paper will try to analyze the holistic influences of the new Gaokao in the years to come.
In 2014, China continued to deepen educational reform. The improvements, reform, and innovations of education were reflected through the progress of a series of in-depth and comprehensive reforms, including pilot reform of the college entrance examination system in Shanghai Municipality and Zhejiang Province, the planning and management of modern vocational education system, the innovation of local education system based on streamlined administration and decentralization (简政放权), the fundamental education policy breakthrough represented by Beijing, the improvement of schooling conditions and the situation of children in poverty-stricken areas, the transformation of local institutions of higher learning and the new landscape of higher education, as well as the education innovations in the Internet era. Despite this, old problems had not been solved, such as the inadequate education opportunities for children of migrant workers in cities in the process of urbanization, while new problems kept emerging, such as the university research corruption. In the process of deepening reforms and promoting the education governance modernization, it was important to understand the education “new normal” (“新常态”), promote education innovation, and solve the problems of rural education and teachers through system reform.
How to regulate the development of independent colleges is one of the major problems confronting China’s higher education. The Order No. 26 (第26号令) issued by the Ministry of Education (教育部) in 2008 requires a transformation of independent colleges in accordance with the standards of independently established regular colleges and universities within five years. Until the deadline of March 2013, 90% of the independent colleges in China had not completed their transformation due to political reasons or the difficulties schools encountered. It is suggested that schools should understand various interests and provide differentiated treatment to resolve the issues faced by independent colleges.
Equal access and quality are two priorities for the development of preschool education. With the completion of the Phase I Three-Year Action Plan of Preschool Education (学前教育第一期三年行动计划), it was necessary to look into what results have been achieved in ensuring equal access to, and the quality of, preschool education and what problems remain to be dealt with. Since 2014, China has been implementing the Phase II Three-Year Action Plan of Pre-school Education, introducing new policies, and continuing to carry out some key projects. However, further exploration still needs to be made through continuous practice to ensure that all children have equal access to quality preschool education and the new policies on preschool education are well implemented.
This paper first provides a description of the relationship between regional characteristics and the development model of secondary vocational education through a simple analytical framework. Then based on the perspective of regional vocational education, it discusses the four relationships between the present private secondly vocational education and its public counterpart, followed by an introduction to the status of different types of private secondary vocational schools based on investigations and studies. After that, international comparisons are made to reveal the underlying contradictions in the development of China’s secondary vocational education at present as well as the acute challenges confronting the Eastern and Midwest parts of China. At last, the authors provide specific suggestions on reforming the investment system, establishing a more open governance structure, and supporting the development of private vocational schools.
In the rapid process of China’s urbanization, the education opportunity for the large number of children of peasant migrants (农民工随迁子女) has attracted a lot of public attention. The new household registration (Hukou) reform (户籍改革) reinforced the “strict population control in megacities.” Such megacities as Beijing and Shanghai have launched a new campaign to drive the low-end working population out of town, and Beijing had begun to set extremely high thresholds for children of peasant migrants to attend public schools. In this context, it has become an urgent issue to be addressed in the process of urbanization to safeguard the rights for school-age children without urban Hukou to receive compulsory education.
“International oriented classes” of senior high schools have met the needs of some students to study abroad at present. But from a long-term point of view, it is imperative for senior high schools to clarify development objectives, establish a more standard curriculum model, and tighten tuition policies while introducing international compatible courses to run international classes. Only by so doing can “international oriented classes” of senior high schools enjoy healthy and orderly development.
The investigation of current development of school-age children was carried out from four dimensions: students’ physical health, teachers’ evaluation of students’ mental health, students’ learning conditions in school, and distribution of school education resources. The investigation compared primary schools in provincial capitals with those in poverty-stricken counties (primary schools in township centers, village primary schools, and teaching places); it also further comprehensively compared primary schools in provincial capitals with those in poverty-stricken townships, villages, and teaching places. The investigation reveals that unhealthy habits and unreasonable nutrition matches are the two biggest concerns for the physical health of school-age children in poverty-stricken areas. The mental health problems for school-age children in primary schools in township centers are most serious. The school-age children in village primary schools and teaching places in poverty-stricken areas suffer from a lack of basic necessities. And the education resources available to these schools are far less than those to primary schools in township centers.
The transformation of local colleges and universities (地方本科) has a direct bearing on the structural adjustment of higher education (高等教育结构调整). In order to improve the system of modern vocational education, recently the Central Government has rolled out policies to turn some colleges and universities into application-oriented technical colleges (应用技术型高校), which are positioned as undergraduate-level vocational colleges and universities (职业本科). However, these policies not only fail to reflect local conditions and but also involve excessive red tapes. Through an analysis of the global trends in the classification of higher education institutions (高等教育机构) and the status quo of higher education in China, the author believes that a balance should be stricken between vocational education and general education (普通教育) to form an interconnected and ternary structure consisting of academic, professional, and vocational education (“学术型-专业应用型-职业技术型”三元交叉体系). This shall help local colleges and universities to better position themselves and speed up the transformation process.