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China’s two-decade top-down education revolution from historical test-oriented education to quality-education: Pros and cons

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Abstract:

Withine an explanatory framework of discourse analysis, globalization, and through documentary studies of the principal educational reform policies and changes in China, this research will attempt to interpret the pros and the cons of China’s two-decade top-down educational revolution for quality education. Since 1993 China started to reform its historical testing-oriented education for a quality-oriented education (The State Council: Guiding Principles of Chinese Education Reform and Development, 1993). In 1999, the State Education Commission stated that Chinese education should be continued and tuned to the reform of college entrance examination, the reform of the curriculum to be tested, the testing contents, the testing form, and the admission policies, so as to promote quality education for national economic development and effective participation in the global economy (The Central Committee and the State Council: Decisions on Deepening the Education Reform, and fully Promoting Quality Education, 1999). The State Council and the Central Committee of the CCP also stated clearly in “The Acting Strategy to Vitalize Chinese Education from 2003-2007” that the core of Chinese basic education reform was to promote educational quality for both national construction and global trade (The Ministry of Education, 02-10-2004). After two decades’ reform effort, what is happening to China’s current education?
The discourse of policy documents repeated that the ultimate goal of education reform was to serve China’s economic construction and modernization. Along with China’s opening and reform in economic system, the world economy was in the process of shifting from industrial to post-industrial economy, which was increasingly dependent upon technology and information. The advancement of technology and information knowledge also accelerated the process of globalization. Knowledge economy and global competition required workers with high creative and analytical skills. So, in the 1980s and 1990s, Chinese leaders and educators called for educational reform to improve the quality of education (Yang, 1995). Zhu Kaixuan, the former Minister of Education, stated in the 1990s: “Education is no longer dissociated from the economy…Education is closely linked with the economy, and has become an organic component and key content of the plans for economic and social development” (Rosen, 1997, p. 259). Minister Zhu (1997) suggested that Chinese education should be a quality-oriented education and the ongoing testing-oriented education should be reformed. Minister Zhu argued that a test-oriented education was not equal to a quality education. Test-oriented education did not necessarily produce competitive human resources to promote China’s economic development and competitiveness in the global economy. The key to winning the global economy in the 21st century was in promoting quality education (Ngok & Kwong, 2003; Rosen, 1997).From the discourse of policy documents, the Chinese government defined “quality education” as an education that was targeted at promoting the comprehensive quality of the Chinese people, an education that emphasized the exploration and development of the potential capacity of human wisdom and knowledge, and stressed the formation of a sound humanity in terms of moral, intellectual, and physical development. Unlike the traditional testing-oriented education, quality education focused on students’ problem-solving ability, creative and analytical skills, flexibility and responsibility. More important, quality education should be an education that was oriented to all students, and an education to improve student potential for well-rounded development (Yang, 1995; Yang, 1997; Zhang, 2000). Quality education emphasized instruction that was oriented to the whole class, rather than a small group of students who were hopeful for promotion; it emphasized students’ well-rounded development rather than test scores, and it emphasized interactive learning rather than passive learning by memorization.
However, discourse from both policy documents and critics revealed that the one-sided promotion ratio and school burden continue to be the two chronic problems to the third year junior high school students and the senior high school students who are under pressure for going key high schools or key universities. The discourse also implies that the key to solving the two problems was to reform curriculum structure and education system, so as to fundamentally change the ongoing testing-oriented education system, promote quality education, and to meet challenges from increasing globalization. This study will provide references not only for Chinese educational policy makers but also for education policy makers of other countries. As the world is increasingly global, one nation’s experience in education reform can be beneficial to another nation’s reform efforts. The positive and negative experiences and consequences of Chinese educational revolution serve as good references for the current international educational reform movement.

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Quality Education
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Name: 56th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society
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MLA Citation:

Yuan, Guofang. and Lago, Baldomero. "China’s two-decade top-down education revolution from historical test-oriented education to quality-education: Pros and cons" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 56th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Apr 22, 2012 <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p552951_index.html>

APA Citation:

Yuan, G. and Lago, B. , 2012-04-22 "China’s two-decade top-down education revolution from historical test-oriented education to quality-education: Pros and cons" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 56th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p552951_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Withine an explanatory framework of discourse analysis, globalization, and through documentary studies of the principal educational reform policies and changes in China, this research will attempt to interpret the pros and the cons of China’s two-decade top-down educational revolution for quality education. Since 1993 China started to reform its historical testing-oriented education for a quality-oriented education (The State Council: Guiding Principles of Chinese Education Reform and Development, 1993). In 1999, the State Education Commission stated that Chinese education should be continued and tuned to the reform of college entrance examination, the reform of the curriculum to be tested, the testing contents, the testing form, and the admission policies, so as to promote quality education for national economic development and effective participation in the global economy (The Central Committee and the State Council: Decisions on Deepening the Education Reform, and fully Promoting Quality Education, 1999). The State Council and the Central Committee of the CCP also stated clearly in “The Acting Strategy to Vitalize Chinese Education from 2003-2007” that the core of Chinese basic education reform was to promote educational quality for both national construction and global trade (The Ministry of Education, 02-10-2004). After two decades’ reform effort, what is happening to China’s current education?
The discourse of policy documents repeated that the ultimate goal of education reform was to serve China’s economic construction and modernization. Along with China’s opening and reform in economic system, the world economy was in the process of shifting from industrial to post-industrial economy, which was increasingly dependent upon technology and information. The advancement of technology and information knowledge also accelerated the process of globalization. Knowledge economy and global competition required workers with high creative and analytical skills. So, in the 1980s and 1990s, Chinese leaders and educators called for educational reform to improve the quality of education (Yang, 1995). Zhu Kaixuan, the former Minister of Education, stated in the 1990s: “Education is no longer dissociated from the economy…Education is closely linked with the economy, and has become an organic component and key content of the plans for economic and social development” (Rosen, 1997, p. 259). Minister Zhu (1997) suggested that Chinese education should be a quality-oriented education and the ongoing testing-oriented education should be reformed. Minister Zhu argued that a test-oriented education was not equal to a quality education. Test-oriented education did not necessarily produce competitive human resources to promote China’s economic development and competitiveness in the global economy. The key to winning the global economy in the 21st century was in promoting quality education (Ngok & Kwong, 2003; Rosen, 1997).From the discourse of policy documents, the Chinese government defined “quality education” as an education that was targeted at promoting the comprehensive quality of the Chinese people, an education that emphasized the exploration and development of the potential capacity of human wisdom and knowledge, and stressed the formation of a sound humanity in terms of moral, intellectual, and physical development. Unlike the traditional testing-oriented education, quality education focused on students’ problem-solving ability, creative and analytical skills, flexibility and responsibility. More important, quality education should be an education that was oriented to all students, and an education to improve student potential for well-rounded development (Yang, 1995; Yang, 1997; Zhang, 2000). Quality education emphasized instruction that was oriented to the whole class, rather than a small group of students who were hopeful for promotion; it emphasized students’ well-rounded development rather than test scores, and it emphasized interactive learning rather than passive learning by memorization.
However, discourse from both policy documents and critics revealed that the one-sided promotion ratio and school burden continue to be the two chronic problems to the third year junior high school students and the senior high school students who are under pressure for going key high schools or key universities. The discourse also implies that the key to solving the two problems was to reform curriculum structure and education system, so as to fundamentally change the ongoing testing-oriented education system, promote quality education, and to meet challenges from increasing globalization. This study will provide references not only for Chinese educational policy makers but also for education policy makers of other countries. As the world is increasingly global, one nation’s experience in education reform can be beneficial to another nation’s reform efforts. The positive and negative experiences and consequences of Chinese educational revolution serve as good references for the current international educational reform movement.


Similar Titles:
After two decade's reform effort, has China's high school education moved away from the test-oriented education?

Mass education or elite education: Decades’ struggle of China’s education reform since the late of 1980s


 
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