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China: Education Reforms Begin
Source: Global Times
Source Date: Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: China
Created: Dec 13, 2010

The Chinese government has kicked off a new round of education reforms with the launching of a number of projects across the country.

According to a recent notice issued by the State Council, or the cabinet, the trial reform will be carried out in elementary, higher and vocational education institutions. The reform will concern almost all families in China and will focus on a number of tasks, such as improving preschool and nine-year compulsory education, building a modern university system, and promoting non-government funded education.

One of the officials overseeing the drive told the Xinhua News Agency that China now faces an unprecedented opportunity to push forward reforms, that could affect several generations of people.

According to the Outline of China's National Plan for Medium and Long-Term Education Reform and Development (2010-20) promulgated in July, China plans "to become a country with rich human resources" by the year 2020.

The Plan, China's first medium and long-term education plan for this century, sets out a series of concrete goals to be achieved by 2020, including raising the senior high school gross enrollment rate to 90 percent and the higher education gross enrollment rate to 40 percent.

Back in the 1980s, education reform was one of the strategies at the forefront of China's reform and opening-up effort. According to Premier Wen Jiabao, head of the leading group for the education plan, this round of reforms will "reflect the determi-nation, will and strategic foresight of the Chinese nation to develop education and build up confidence in China's education system."

Wang Hongcai, a professor at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that ensuring different regions enjoy equal education resources is the main target of the drive."If the reform succeeds, residents in urban and rural areas, in western and eastern regions will enjoy equal educational opportunities," Wang said, adding that it will also increase efficiency in terms of cultivating talents.

The idea was echoed by Dr Ruan Shouhua at Beijing Normal University, who warned that the current rigid and simplistic mechanism of training talents will limit China's long-term development.
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