Democratic Education in Modern China
Democratic Education in Modern China
Education plays an important role in transforming a society, this follows from its impact on the reasoning of persons, transforming of culture, change of attitude, increased efficiency and also the enhancement of a systematic analysis of some documentations that enable the creation of a new knowledge among other impacts. It enables the transfer of skills from one person to the other and also the sharing of experience that is meant to increase efficiency. Educating society enables the country to develop its human resources.
This is enhanced through the imparting of skills that are meant to improve the labour productivity and efficiency in performing varied tasks. Education also impacts communication in a positive manner as the trainees are provided with the skills on how to effectively communicate. Effective communication enables the employees of an organisation to exchange ideas with much easy, hence promoting the sharing of experience that is likely to enhance improved efficiency in some organisation. Education history in China can be traced to have started at the initial stages of the Chinese civilization.
It started among the nobles who established educational training for their young ones. The first school that was established in was Shang Hsiang, that was meant to teach the youth and specifically the nobles on some skills as provided by the Chinese culture (Deng, 1). The establishment of Shang Hsiang school can therefore be perceived as the starting point for education in China. Afterwards the government established five national schools that were meant to teach specifically the junior nobles.
The national schools thought the six Arts that include rite, mathematics, Calligraphy, Charioteering, Archery and Archery, that formed the six practices of the Chinese culture. Within the same time, hundred schools of thought emerged within the Chinese community having Confucianism as the most popular school of thought. The leader of Confucianism, that is Confucius was perceived as being the originator for the education that was meant to reach the large numbers, that is, educate for the public.
Confucius advocated for the provision of education to all the population without discrimination and encouraged the teaching of the students according to their respective ability. The advocating for education for all and according to their ability followed the discrimination that was existing by then in providing educational training because it was only meant for the noble youths, who were the offspring of he nobles. Therefore, this can be perceived as being a setback in the early development of education in China during the Cultural Revolution.
The success and the failures of the Cultural Revolution reforms in Education. The success or the failure of the cultural revolution reforms imply the extend to which the educational reforms met the purported purposes as provided by the authority. In the early establishment of schools in China, the process of enhancing education was affected by the political structure, where schools were grouped according to political entities in order to gain favour of social influence.
The political structure affected education depending on which school of thought that the leaders of the society regarded as being appropriate as the various schools of thought were in competition. For example, Qin Shi Huang favored for legalism, that is, the Chinese philosophy, and perceived the other schools of thought as being useless (Peterson, 20). Following his attitude, he used to burn books from the other schools of though and buried scholars belonging to the schools of thought that were not preferable according to him.
This actions is one of the major setbacks that retarded the development of education in China during the cultural revolution. Confucianism was advocated as the national education doctrine by Emperor Wu of Han. This situation disadvantaged the other schools of thought that never had an upper hand in the Chinese politics, despite their educational content. Otherwise, it was just a matter of the attitude other than the quality of education inherent in different schools of schools of thought.
The success of education in China was however boasted by the invention of paper in China. This enabled effective documentation of the educational teachings, and enhanced easy reference and storage. The freedom to access education, that is, the autonomy of education from political influence was enhanced through the defeat of the Chinese empire in the Opium war. This marked the turning point for education standard and access in China. Following the defeat, the modern western education streamed into the country in various languages.
It also impacted the various sectors that included the national defence and the technicalities that were used in production. The government also boasted the education by sending numerous students abroad to study varied technical courses. The families also sent their offspring for study in the countries that include the United States of America, Europe and Japan. Towards the end of the 19th Century a number of high learning institutions were established that include the Jiaotong University and also the Peking University.
On introducing the western education and deserting the cultural oriented education, the Chinese education system focused in enhancing economic modernisation as the main agenda foe improving the education standard. This direction was provided in 1984 following the designing of laws that were meant to govern the Chinese education system (Hill and Storey, 27). An education plan was also designed in 1985 that was meant to reform the education system. Among the contents on the plan included the five year compulsory education and also the instituting of the State Education Commission.
The government devoted funds in the improvement of the education standards and ensuring that more citizens were accessible to education. In China, the policies that have been designed overtime have been alternating between improving the knowledge also the practical application of the knowledge in enhancing national development. This was meant to orient the education system in making it relevant for national development. The government has also been trying to lessen the gaps that exist between the workers and the peasants in terms of literacy.
The urban population also seem to be more educated than the rural population, thus the government has also been trying to seal the gap by supplying the rural population with the educational facilities. There has also been an encouragement for the intellectuals to engage in providing manual labour in enhancing national development. Science and technology was offered the first priority in enhancing national development, however social sciences were also perceived as being reinforcing in attaining national development. The vocational training was considered equivalently important.
The elite were encouraged to further their capabilities by seeking further training in improving their efficiency and competence. The intellectuals were also encouraged to engage in research that was meant to create new knowledge in integrating it which the knowledge from abroad. The beneficiaries of the criteria that used in selecting students for higher education during the cultural revolution time, where recommendations dependent on political connectivity than merit. The higher education in China can be perceived to have risen following the dynamics in the political policies that have been occurring in the modern China.
The need for higher education arose due to the emphasis over professionalisms and the enabling of technical competence. In the early stages of Chinese cultural revolution, a large number of students were enrolled in Red Guard organizations which were the higher learning institutions by then (Williams, 117). In 1970s, according the admission criteria into the Red Guard, one was admitted to the organization only if they were recommended from their work unit and had good political credentials, and on the condition that they were not involved in the manual labour.
There were no examinations that were meant to evaluate the ability of the students who were admitted to the University, meaning that there was a possibility for admitting incapable students to the university. Admission into a university heavily depended on political connections of an individual other than merit; therefore one required a political recommendation before joining university. Following the criteria that was used in admitting students into the university, the education standard was reported to had fallen to an extend to which the students were unable to read a book after leaving the university in their respective fields of study.
This situation also had an impact of demoralizing the university administrators. The criteria of admission only gave an opportunity to the children of the cadres and the officers who had connections that were to enable them get admission for their children ‘through the back door’. Therefore, following the nature of the criteria that was used to admit students, the students who benefited from the high learning education were the ones who had a political connection that was to enable them secure an admission through the back door.
This method of admission disadvantaged the potential students who could have made in better in the university due to lack of political connection. The children of the peasants stood at a disadvantage meaning that the cycle of being politically non-influential was likely to persist, as the politically influential persons were likely to prepare their children to take over after them, hence perpetuating leadership within some families.
The Red Guards can be regarded as being naive pawns in an elite struggle other than being rational actors that were to protect their self interests. The criteria that was adapted by the Red Guards in admitting the students into the university portray the Red Guard as being naive pawns in an elite power struggle than rational actors protecting their self interest. This is evident in the situation where the red Guards only engaged in admitting students into the university without any evaluation on whether they have the ability to pursue various courses of their preference.
As mentioned early, the graduates never even had the ability to read a book even after graduating from the university. The criteria locked out the children who belonged to his peasant families regardless of their ability to excel in academics. This situation enabled the politically connected persons to reign with fewer competitions from the other members of the society, regardless of their weaknesses because the criteria provided them with a protection against.
The aim for the high education was to enable high performance among the students when they are in practice, implying that the admitting of students who do not qualify into the university following their political connections is anti development (Smith and Buckle, 231) The admitting of students who do not qualify for admission will contribute less to national development because the education attained while in the university will have less impact in improving their performance.
The red guards were trying to ensure that competition is restrained because of the posts that were to enable them maintain their social classes were likely to be taken by the new elites that were likely to emerge among the peasants, thus it was a strategy over which the peasants were denied the opportunity to compete favorably with the politically connected persons. The dominance was only to be reinforced by restricting the new forces that were likely to emerge from the peasants is they accessed higher education. The Red guards can be regarded as being protecting their interests, but the protecting of their interests was irrational.
They can be perceived as being irrational actors following the fact that the criteria was undermining national development, because the graduates were likely to fail meeting the responsibilities entrusted to them with regard to the academic tittles awarded to them. The aim for higher education was to enhance national development, therefore the act of offering education to persons who were certain to contribute less to national development seem to be an irrational act as the purported reasons for offering higher education were never attained.
This implies the wasting of resources by the state in educating students whose marginal productivity in contributing to the national development was below the optimal requirements, thus a bogus investment. Thus, making the whole process an irrational. A comparison and contrast between the cultural revolution reforms in education and the educational reforms the were introduced after 1978. Following the failures of the cultural revolution reforms in education in attaining accelerated national development, there arose various reforms after 1978 that were meant to enhance effectiveness in the education system in enabling national development.
For instant, during the 1980’s, there were a number of reforms that occurred following the modernization goals that were set by the government. The higher education was regarded as being the foundation for research and training that was meant to enhance national development on doing the application of the knowledge that is created (Jinxia, 219). This is different from the times of cultural revolution where higher education was used for the purpose of prestige and not for enhancing national development.
There were also reforms in the management of the higher learning institutions that gave a new focus in terms of the offering opportunity to the students and the content of the courses offered. Following the reforms, the universities were provided with the opportunity of choosing their own curriculum and participation in the various projects. They were also grated an autonomy to hire their staff and manage the funds awarded to them by the government. The university admission criteria also changed, where only the academically able students were to be considered.
In making a comparison between the cultural revolution reforms and the reforms after 1978, the reforms during the cultural revolutions were meant to perpetuate education only within the a few individuals in the society in enhancing the reigning of the a few over the majority, therefore, education was used as a strategy to rule. Education was denied to the peasants because offering them education was perceived as being ‘sharpening an iron for oneself’, therefore the reforms in the education system were meant to limit the access to education to a few individuals, that is, the persons who were politically connected.
This is contrary to the policy reforms that were enhanced after 1978. After 1978, access to education was made easy, where higher education was meant for the students who were capable (Sakai, 67). That is, everything was done on merit, with less political influence through the enhanced university autonomy. The reforms were guided by the modern development goals that were set, which were supposed to enhance national development through the investing in education. National development was to be enabled through research and development that was to be based on the higher learning institutions.
In enabling breakthroughs, the universities were then provided with an incentive of evaluating students before being admitted on ensuring that the education that was offered was to be effective in enhancing national development. The objective of the educational reforms during the cultural revolution was to maintain the societal status held by some families, that is, education was meant only for the nobles. After 1978, the objective of enhancing educational reforms changed from self interest to the realizing of national development through the building of human resources of the country.
The results of educational reforms during the cultural revolution is the lagged technological development that was reflected in the retarded national development and also the existence of inequalities within the Chinese community following the nature of reforms that favoured some classes in society at the expense of the rest of the society. The country was also experiencing low labour productivity following the fact that the non-qualified personnels were given the opportunity to lead various institutions or perform some tasks that were entrusted to them.
The results for the reforms after 1978 were positively rewarding in enhancing national development (Lu-chai, 93). The country was able to utilize the talents that were inherent in its population non-selectively through the admission to higher learning institutions based on merit. It increased equality in society as all the population later had equal access to education once one’s ability is evident. The country also realized improved labour productivity because the skills attained in higher learning institutions were likely to be applicable in practice following the nature of students admitted to the university.
The impact of the dismantling the commune system in China and the return of family farming on the provision and demand for the basic education among the Chinese rural area Education in China was received as the means in which an individual can improve his or her welfare, and this is enhanced through the offering of services using the skills attained through education for compensation. Therefore, education was perceived as being an investment that was meant improve one’s welfare (Price, 311).
The commune system in China can be perceived as a factor that contributed to persons in society not to work hard, because they were likely to get an equal share to the ones who did not work. Therefore, people, and more especially the ones who were living in the rural areas and who depended on farming did not see the need for seeking education as all their requirements were met communally. The dismantling of the commune system by the adaptation of the return to family farming affected the perception of persons in the Chinese society and more especially persons staying in the rural areas who heavily depended on farming.
The implication of the dismantling is that each family was expected to struggle in satisfying its needs. Following the high population of the the Chinese people, the population never had a reasonable land to do farming on sustaining the population, therefore, the population turned to seeking education as a means of gaining skills that will enable then to earn a living. Therefore, the dismantling of the communism system to family farming can be perceived to have triggered the demand for basic education following the need to attain skills in enhancing an improved welfare.
The family setups took the responsibility of ensuring that their children were educated in enhancing an improved welfare of both the family and for their children, thus is was perceived as being a gateway to success. The reasons as to why vocational training was popular during the reform period compared to the Maoist era. There were emphasis during the times of 1949-76 concerning the significance of vocational training in applying education to meet production requirements. The vocational education became popular after the 1978 reforms (Peake, 32).
The logic behind vocational training popularity after the 1978 reforms is that during the times, that is, before 1978, the vocational training was perceived as being an inferior education to be offered to the peasant children, thus making it unpopular. During the reform period, vocational training became popular following the agenda for attaining modernization in China, therefore children were encouraged to join vocational training that was meant to equip the population with the skills that were supposed to delver the country into the desired modernization.
The popularity of vocational training can also be attributed to the the dismantling of communism system in 1982 that lead to the family based farming. The dismantling of communism provided an incentive over which society members saw the need to acquire the skills that were expected to earn them a living hence an avenue over which vocational training attained popularity. The requirements for getting a university admission were based on merit during the times of the reforms, thus there was a large number of persons who were not likely to attain an entry into the university education.
Therefore, as an alternative for attaining skills, the population opted for vocational training that had less requirements for training. The number of vocational training institutions were also many compared to the universities, therefore due to resource scarcity a large number of persons were likely to get vocational training than university education. Despite the large number of vocational training institutions, the institutions were also accessible even to the persons leaving in the rural areas, on the reason that the population is likely to utilize the reasons that are easily accessible than the ones that are far reaching.
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University of California. 2007. Peterson Glen. The Power of Words: literacy and Revolution in South China, 1949-95. UBC Press. 1998. Price, R. Education in Modern China. Routledge. 2004. Sakai Robert. Politics and Education in Modern China. Harvard University. 1953. Smith Douglas and Bucklew Neil. Middle Education in the Middle Kingdom: The Chinese Junior High School in Modern Taiwan. Praeger. 1997. Williams Michael and Humprys Graham. Citizenship Education and Lifelong Learning: Power and place. Nova Publishers. 2003.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 30 December 2016
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