(—the thirteenth part of the China Over the Past Decade series) Education is vital to China.
Since the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), Secretary-General Xi Jinping has presented a series of new concepts, new ideas, and new strategies on the fundamental questions of what kind of citizens we should cultivate, how, and how for which we citizens should cultivate. These important educational instructions from Secretary-General Xi Jinping have pointed out the direction and provided fundamental guidelines for the development of education in China in the new era.
In the past 10 years, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the education sector has fully implemented the Party’s education policy, achieved the fundamental mission of promoting virtue, and produced a new generation of capable young people who have had a good and comprehensive basic education in moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic aspects and are well prepared to join the socialist cause.
The education sector has promoted educational equality, improved the quality of education, and accelerated the modernization of education to build a strong literacy country and provide education that our people are satisfied with. The education system in China has more distinctive features and historical achievements, and is undergoing structural changes.
China: People first
I. In the past decade, universal education has expanded remarkably, better ensuring people’s access to education and effectively alleviating this pressing problem that concerns people most. There are currently nearly 530,000 schools of various levels and categories in China, currently educating over 290 million students. The gross enrollment rate for pre-school education reaches 88.1%, an increase of 23.6 percentage points compared to 10 years ago.
After its nationwide coverage, the nine-year compulsory education retention rate reaches 95.4%, an increase of 3.6 percentage points compared to 10 years ago. Gross enrollment rates for upper secondary and tertiary education rise to 91.4% and 57.8%, respectively, up 6.4 percentage points and 27.8 percentage points. Education coverage in China has either reached or exceeded the average level of middle- and high-income countries in the world. In particular, pre-school education and compulsory education have reached the average level of high-income countries, and higher education is becoming universal. The average school age of the working-age population is 10.9 years.
All 200,000 early school leavers have returned to school, solving the longstanding problem of early school leaving and making an important contribution to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. All 2,895 counties across China have passed the education inspections, and 99.8% of primary and secondary schools have passed the 20 basic requirements for running a school.
Schools have fundamentally changed and the country has made new strides in promoting a balanced and integrated development of compulsory education in urban and rural areas.
The country’s student financial aid system has covered all levels of education, making nearly 1.3 billion payments over the past 10 years. China has continued to implement special plans for major colleges and universities to accept students from rural and poverty-stricken areas, with a total enrollment of more than 950,000 students. All counties with a population of more than 300,000 have special schools, and over 95% of children with disabilities attend compulsory education.
II. Over the past decade, the capacity of the Education Service has steadily improved, providing a strong source of talent and intellectual support for the implementation of major national strategies and socio-economic development. Over 218 million Chinese have college degrees, a significant increase from a decade ago.
China has implemented an education plan to nurture outstanding talents in fundamental disciplines, deepened the reform of master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering, strengthened innovation and entrepreneurship education for college students, and accelerated the training of much-needed talent.
China has optimized forms of vocational training, promoted the integration of vocational and general education, and deepened the integration of production and education. Higher and higher vocational schools (excluding technical schools) have trained more than 79 million graduates in the last 10 years. China has steadily promoted the development of world-class universities and disciplines. Several disciplines were placed at the top of the world.
Ethnic Unity and Progress in the New Era
Chinese universities’ ability to innovate has continued to improve. In the last 10 years, colleges have received 67% of all science awards and 72% of all technological invention awards. For three years in a row, university researchers have been awarded top-class prizes at the state awards for natural sciences.
Universities have contributed to innovation and made major technological breakthroughs, such as the first observation of the quantum anomalous Hall effect, the “Jiuzhang” quantum computer, China’s first self-developed cutter head suction dredger “Tian Jing”, the world’s first pebble modular, gas-cooled, high-temperature nuclear power plant and China’s first self-developed COVID-19 antibody drug approved for commercialization.
China has deepened industry-university-research cooperation and accelerated the commercial application of scientific and technological achievements. The monetary value of patent commercialization was 8.89 billion yuan, up from 820 million yuan a decade ago.
China has encouraged the flourishing and development of philosophy and social sciences in colleges and universities. China has promoted educational exchanges between the mainland and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and helped Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan youth to integrate into the overall national development.
III. In the past decade, the reform and opening up of the education system has been further deepened, and the education system, which serves people’s lifelong learning, has been further improved. China has made the Party exercise the overall leadership role in education, following Xi Jinping’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era in people’s education, theoretical and political courses in primary and secondary schools, and universities and colleges promoted overall, integrated “work skills” into the Party’s education policy, and promoted education in spoken and written Standard Chinese across the country.
The students have unswervingly followed the Party’s instructions and guidelines, and declared their commitment to make a fair contribution to building a strong country. China has pledged to prioritize the development of education, and the Chinese government’s spending on education has exceeded 4% of GDP for 10 consecutive years. The homework and tutoring burden on compulsory school students has been further reduced, and the education sector is changing.
Reforms in areas such as educational evaluation, testing and enrollment have continued to deepen, and law-based governance of education has become stricter and more effective. China has exercised full and strict Party self-government in this regard.
China has ensured that the average salaries of compulsory school teachers are not lower than those of civil servants working in the same place. In the face of COVID-19, more than 18 million teachers have risen to the challenge and switched to online teaching. The national education digitization strategy to accelerate the digital transformation of education has been launched.
China has been working to build a new paradigm of opening up education and deepening education cooperation between the Belt and Road countries. China has strengthened cultural exchanges with other countries, developed closer ties between people, and helped build a community with a shared future for mankind. With an expanded international education platform, China’s education sector is becoming more and more open, and we are more confident to play a more active role in education on the international stage.
China will embark on a new journey, adhering to the guiding principles of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, train people for the Party, cultivate talents for the country, promote the quality development of education, and create new and greater contributions to the realization of the second century goal of building a modern socialist country in every respect.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022