Libmonster ID: CN-1313
Author(s) of the publication: N. BOREVSKAYA

N. BOREVSKAYA, Candidate of Philological Sciences


The concepts of Chinese modernization advocates over the past century have had one thing in common - they all put education "o" at the forefront of reform. It was declared alternately a means of "strengthening" the state, then a path to its "salvation", and in the modern camp - a condition for its "flourishing". To this end, everywhere in the 20s of the last century, educators and figures of revolutionary orientation put forward the slogan "education to the people" and persistently promoted it in life. The approach to education and training as the basis of state governance stems from the Confucian tradition, although it fully corresponds to the concept of "modernization"that emerged in the mid-60s in the West. Modern Chinese politicians and philosophers put the growing international role of the PRC in the XXI century in direct dependence on its scientific and technological potential, and the growth of the latter is directly related to the modernization of the education system. "The development of science and technology, "Deng Xiaoping, the" father"of modern reforms, noted," is impossible without education."

It is interesting to compare the two stages of modernization of education in China: the 50s-70s and 80s-90s. The first was an "imperial" model of modernization during the period of early industrialization, with the predominance of the backward agricultural sector in the country. According to the then concept of educational reforms, which largely copied the Soviet one, modernization was imposed "from above". This concept was typical of many theoretical constructions of Chinese teachers-revolutionaries and democrats of the previous time, namely: the democratization of education and giving it a mass character, an extensive development model (focusing on universal literacy as a condition for the participation of cadres in mass production and the education of skills focused on this production); the expansion of schools to the countryside; the strengthening of the share of technical and natural science knowledge in educational programs. The policy of the Chinese government at that time was also distinguished by a number of new aspects: the constitutional consolidation of the right of all citizens to education while ensuring guarantees for the education of the working and peasant masses; the complete nationalization of schools and the introduction of a unified centralized education system, five-year planning of the educational process; the transformation of the value orientations of society on the ideological basis of Marxism-Leninism; the separation of education from religion.

Many of these and other measures (State distribution of university graduates, creation of a nationwide network of professional educational institutions, as well as an effective system of training personnel from national minorities) have met the needs of the development of the national economy, science and culture in qualified specialists.

The main directions of modernization of education in 1949-1959 corresponded to the standards of the industrial revolution era adopted at that time in the world and effectively contributed to the inclusion of the broad masses of the population in the education system. In general, despite the widespread slogan of "comprehensive personal development", the entire education system and pedagogy were focused on the "masses" while actually refusing to individualize the individual. This was also facilitated by the PRC government's preservation of the basic attributes of the traditional society's education system at that stage, primarily the paternalistic role of the state and authoritarian pedagogy.


The 60s and 70s were characterized in China by the desire to jump over the steps typical of "delayed" modernization (spasmodic development), but at the same time by a very peculiar rejection of foreign experience and the absolutization of national specifics (pseudo-national model).

The formation of China's education policy clearly took place with an eye to success

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an Asian economic miracle that fueled modernization with the rapid accumulation of" human capital", which in turn was increased by the accelerated spread of education.

China tried to replicate this leap, but without taking into account all the prerequisites and components, in particular, without significantly increasing investment in education. The Chinese leadership also made other serious mistakes in the implementation of this stage of modernization of education: there was no scientifically developed development model, the private sector in education was ignored, the closeness of the educational system was negatively affected, and much more. As a result, over the first three decades, despite all the "leaps and bounds", the PRC was not able to eliminate illiteracy and train the necessary number of specialists as quickly as the eastern "dragons" later managed to do. In general, the practice of these difficult decades has demonstrated to both China and the world that it is impossible to modernize the education system in a closed society without abandoning outdated traditional pedagogical concepts and implementing deep structural reforms.

China has learned this lesson, and in 1983 began a new stage of modernization of education under the slogan of Deng Xiaoping "Turn to modernization, to peace, to the future." A new concept of education was required by market reforms, a higher rate of industrialization, and a challenge from the international community.

Rapidly developing information systems, the growing activity of international foundations and organizations, and the internationalization of the labor market have made the development of education systems within the country dependent on many external factors in recent decades. Since the 1980s, China has been developing a new strategy for the development of education, making extensive use not only of its own historical heritage, but also of international experience, in particular, the experience of its neighbors in the region, with many of whom it shares the same civilizational field.

The term "Asian model of education"was introduced into the scientific circulation of Western countries. Proponents of this model saw the accelerated Asian pace as an original and more effective development strategy in response to the challenge associated with the economic superiority of the West than the traditional European one. Among American specialists in Asia, the high effectiveness of its educational strategy was identified with the region where modernization was based on Confucian culture. These are Japan, then South Korea and the Dragons, and most recently the People's Republic of China1 .

According to their opponents, Asian countries have not revealed a new strategy to the world, but only repeated the policy of expanding mass access to education that was approved by the West a century ago, which accompanied the formation of its unified national state systems. But even these skeptics pointed to several new components of success in the region's most rapidly developing economies: the transition to public planning in the 1970s and 1980s, and the higher rate of school expansion than in developing countries in other regions.

The rate of introduction of primary universal education in China from 1970 to 1985 was even higher than in the countries of Southeast Asia. As for secondary education, in those years it was the secondary school that was most intensively developed in the PRC, which, by the way, led to an imbalance in the stages of education and a distortion of its structure. However, by the early 1990s, China was lagging behind its Asian neighbors in the spread of education. The main reasons for this lag are the lack of modern mechanisms for planning the development of education, the incoordination of the pace of its spread with economic growth, the rejection of an extensive development model that is more than a decade late, the pursuit of equal educational opportunities to the detriment of improving the effectiveness of education, as well as a fundamentally different ratio of the state and non-state sectors in this area than in other countries.


Modernization of education at the present stage is regarded in China as a path to the information post-industrial society.

The new strategy of education provides for its decentralization and privatization, democratization and humanization on the basis of-

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national theories and world experience. Reflecting on the components of the current stage of modernization, the Chinese leadership, based on modern theoretical developments, came to the conclusion that improving the cultural level of the nation is the key to the development of the scientific and technological revolution, and universal basic education should be the key point of the new strategy. Science and technology were declared to be a "productive force of the first importance" (because they are engaged in production in the field of knowledge), and education was the basis of socialist modernization. This position reflected both an understanding of the huge changes in the structure of the productive forces required to build an information-based post-industrial society, and China's willingness to start implementing such changes. The task of education was to create a holistic system of training personnel (both technicians and middle-level workers, as well as highly qualified workers and specialists), who, unlike in the past, have the necessary technical skills and knowledge for advanced areas of production.

The challenge of the scientific and technological revolution and plans to democratize and achieve a high level of spiritual civilization required urgent measures from China to improve the level of education of all members of society (according to the 1982 census, it averaged five classes among people over 25 years of age, and only 220 students per 10,000 population). In accordance with the successful strategy of the South - East Asian countries developed by that time, a fundamentally new step in the modernization of education at this stage was the decision of the PRC leadership to introduce compulsory incomplete secondary nine-year education and distribute it in parallel with the elimination of illiteracy and the completion of primary universal education.

By 1997, the country's illiteracy rate had fallen from 23.5 per cent (1982) to six per cent among young and middle-aged people, 98.92 per cent of school-age children were enrolled in primary school, and 87.1 per cent were enrolled in lower secondary school2 . By 2000, the share of scientific and technical personnel had increased to 17.7 per cent of the total number of public sector workers and employees. The transition from elite to mass higher education has begun (from 3.5 percent of the relevant age group in the early 1990s to eight percent in 2000 and subsequent rapid growth).

In the second half of the 1980s, the concept of modernization in China began to gradually move away from a narrowly technocratic interpretation and was developed in broader socio-economic and humanitarian aspects. It involves society and the individual directly, and the country's leadership is becoming more aware of the importance of such components of modernization as culture and traditions. In all the discussions about modernization that took place in China at various stages, the reform of the educational system was associated with the upbringing of a "modern person". At the same time, it was noted that China at the end of the XX century was characterized by many negative aspects of the "Asian model" of personnel training. Just like graduates of other Asian universities, young specialists in the PRC are characterized by the lack of such necessary qualities of a modern employee as initiative, creativity, and the ability to conduct a critical dialogue. According to Chinese theorists themselves, some of these skills were simply not taught in Chinese schools. According to the American Professor Cummings, Asian education is "an excellent vessel for filling it with knowledge, but it is not suitable for critical processing of ideas."

The Chinese leadership is gradually coming to the realization that modernization goes far beyond economic development. It requires profound changes in the political, socio-cultural and spiritual spheres. In short, it is a transformation of the value orientation of society, the style and quality of its life, social relations, and ultimately-a change in the very personality of a person. The course of "improving the quality characteristics of the nation" proclaimed back in 1985, accompanied by the development of a program for educating such characteristics in educational institutions, in fact meant the formation of fundamentally new qualities necessary for people who will be engaged in a production of a different type than production-line production. When comparing the new deal with the dominant slogan of "raising the cultural level of the masses" in previous decades, serious differences can be seen: the replacement of the word "masses" with " nation "meant the rejection of the class approach ("masses "in Marxist theory meant workers and peasants, or" workers"), and the emergence of the concept of"qualitative characteristics". instead of the "cultural level", it focused personnel on meeting the requirements of highly industrial and post-industrial societies.

Leading figures in education have begun to reorient the entire theory and practice of pedagogy to

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education of the individual. This problem was posed in China in a fundamentally different way, in the light of the construction of a modern spiritual civilization. A number of scientists suggest defining the education of a new personality as the ultimate goal of reforms and creating the necessary conditions for this, in particular, to awaken independence and subjectivity in each participant of the educational process.

In the 90s, the general humanistic search of Chinese teachers and scientists of related fields of knowledge, aimed at identifying the autonomy and self-realization of the student's personality, his unique personality, sharply intensified. They were implemented in a number of school experiments, including the development of new didactic techniques in the organization of educational programs and the pedagogy of cooperation. On the pages of the pedagogical press, a more comprehensive humanistic concept of modernization of education gradually made its way: "a person is the starting point of education", "everything for a person". "Educating the qualities" of a modern Chinese person in the 90s was officially proclaimed the main content of ideological and moral training of students.


The socio-economic, political and humanitarian goals set for education required the development of a new education strategy for the XXI century, which the Chinese leadership formulated by the end of the 80s. It includes a moderate scale, optimization of the structure and variety of forms of educational institutions, emphasis on regional development, and openness of the educational system.

All the main elements of this strategy have been enshrined in the legislative acts adopted over the past two decades - the "Law on Compulsory Education", the" Law on Education", as well as the laws on vocational education, on teachers, and on higher education. The legislation approved the priority role of education in modernization, ensuring that " the growth rate of state allocations for compulsory education should exceed the increase in ordinary financial income." China has taken a course to abandon the uniformity of educational institutions, encourage their multilayering and diversification: there are educational institutions serving different sectors of the economy, schools and classes for the gifted, and many other types of educational institutions.

The country's leadership has started developing regional educational strategies. Decentralization of the education management system has become a powerful lever for transformation. For the first time, the division of functions between central and local authorities was outlined, with a significant expansion of the rights and responsibilities of the latter in the management of educational institutions (including funding), as well as self-government of educational institutions.

According to government regulations of the last decade, the concept of "development" in the context of modernization also implies structural reform in China, which means changing the ratio and combination of educational institutions of different types and levels. China seeks to find its own standard structure of education, based on the specifics of the stage of transition of the economy and society from the traditional to the modern model.

In the early 1990s, China adjusted the pace of literacy elimination and the introduction of universal compulsory lower secondary education. By 2001, this problem had already been solved in the territory where 85% of the population lives.

As a result of the intensive expansion of vocational and technical secondary schools, where 60.4 per cent of all those receiving full secondary education were enrolled by 1998, the percentage of adolescents in the relevant age group enrolled in this form of education exceeded 30 per cent, compared to 12 in 1981. Nevertheless, China still lags behind the countries of the Asian region in this indicator.

In the field of higher education, the task was set to restructure it in accordance with the multi-layered economy and market requirements that had been formed by the mid-80s, including the creation of a system of multi-level universities and colleges. The slow, planned transition to paid higher education, which began in the late 1980s and lasted until the end of the century, was being completed (in 1998, half of the state universities in the PRC were taught on a paid basis), and the entire system of admission and distribution of graduates was changing accordingly. A program was being developed to expand the scale of higher education through the creation of state and non-state short-term universities and colleges, primarily at the regional level (in the 1997/1998 academic year, they absorbed more than 40 percent of all applicants to universities) and large-scale adult education (the system of external studies, television and radio universities and other forms). At the same time, China has done serious work to create conditions for bringing the first hundred best universities of the country to the world level in the coming years.

In the 1990s, there was a radical rethinking of the criteria for modernization-from a pace-oriented model to a knowledge-intensive, resource-saving strategy aimed at efficiency. According to a number of internationally accepted performance criteria, China lagged behind many Asian countries, where high quality indicators with rather modest budget allocations were achieved due to a more tightly centralized education system and a smaller number of teachers relative to the number of students than is customary in Western countries. In its quest to improve the efficiency of higher education, China has implemented a program of differentiating educational institutions by district, specialty, and type. China has also had to listen to the World Bank's demands for a higher tax rate.

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internal effectiveness of the educational system. All this has led to the most efficient use of teaching and administrative staff, reducing the dispersion of resources caused by second years and dropout rates. The efficiency of the functioning of the education system in society has increased, in particular, graduates have become more consistent with the needs of the labor market.

Now education in China is gradually turning from a purely state-run system to a public - public system, in which the government has the main responsibility for creating educational institutions, but works together with public forces-enterprises, departments, public organizations and individuals. Such a turn corresponds to the needs of a post-industrial society, where "human production" is less and less the prerogative of the state and more and more - of civil society and citizens themselves.


The new strategy gives China the opportunity to successfully modernize education without a sharp increase in budget allocations. A clear division of financial powers between the state and society in the transition to a market economy has already borne fruit: from 1985 to 1998, spending on education in the state budget grew by an average of 15.3 percent per year (mainly at the expense of local budgets), exceeding the global average growth rate of public investment in education - 10.5 percent. Yet China has not reached the level of developed Asian countries in this indicator, and it also spends 2.5 percent of GNP on education, while Asian "dragons" spend an average of four to five percent.

By 2000, the percentage of total education expenditure by grade level had shifted towards an increase in funds for compulsory and secondary vocational education due to a decrease in allocations for higher education. Fundamentally important in the new financial policy in the field of education was the growth of the share of budget expenditures on education at the local level - in villages and parishes-and the excess of public investment in education over budget allocations. The latter is largely facilitated by the active revival of non-State, including private educational institutions at the stage of the 90s.

Such educational institutions have become an important part of the construction of the state-public education system in the PRC. They were a recognition of the financial failure and inflexibility of the state education system, its inability to quickly respond to global challenges, in particular, to prepare in the shortest possible time for the branches of the economy and fields of science personnel that can provide a technological breakthrough and meet the demand for new specialties. Non-state educational institutions have become a response to the emergence of a new consumer demand - both additional (in the context of a shortage of secondary and higher educational institutions), and differentiated, taking into account the dissatisfaction of certain groups of the population with the volume or type of educational opportunities provided by the state. Private schools are developing most successfully in areas that the public sector has not "reached", providing auxiliary education and training for gifted children. This policy of the Chinese government does not run counter to the policy of Southeast Asian countries regarding the private sector in education, although the share of non-state schools in China, which barely reaches one percent, is clearly smaller than in other Asian countries.

Despite their small number, the emergence of non - state educational institutions in China has made it possible to dramatically increase the efficiency of using human, financial and material resources-retired experienced teachers, computer classes, language rooms, laboratories. Their role in the pedagogical search (teaching methods, transition to modern personality-oriented pedagogy), in the introduction of a new system within school management and new technologies is becoming more and more obvious. However, the introduction of modern technologies that can ensure the priority strategic positions of education, release the productive forces of teachers and students ' creative potential, and in the shortest possible time train personnel that meet the international requirements of information competition is difficult in China both because of the lack of material resources and the lack of understanding that modern information technologies significantly accelerate the development of education. According to Chinese scientists, in the introduction of high technologies in education, China "is far behind the world's outposts", and "this is one of the important reasons for its slow progress on the path of modernization of education."

Despite all the success achieved, the Chinese leadership has repeatedly noted that education is still lagging behind reforms and does not meet the needs of national development and modernization. At the same time, Chinese scientists note that due to differences in the material base, cultural level of the population and educational traditions, the entry of China and especially the education system into the information society will be very different from developed countries. At the same time, they urge not to be content with lagging behind, emphasizing such differences.

The current Chinese education system focuses on preserving the advantages of the national model in the face of its inevitable globalization (or internationalization) in the modern open world, in other words, mastering foreign technologies while adhering to national spiritual values.

Almost all Asian countries could subscribe to the statement of one of the leaders of Chinese reforms at the beginning of the XX century, Zhang Zhongtong: "National sciences are the basis, Western ones are useful... The former heal the soul, the latter are necessary for the knowledge of the world." The desire to resist the encroachment of the moral attitudes of modern Western society forces the governments of these countries to clearly outline the system of moral and social values based on the highest achievements of national philosophical and ethical doctrines and actively use educational institutions for moral and ideological education of young people.

Н. Stevenson & W. Stigler, 1 "The Learning Cap: Why Our School are Failing and What We Can Learn from Japanese and Chinese Education", N.Y., 1992; "Education and Modernization: The Chinese Experience", ed. R. Hayhoe, Pergamon, 1992.

2 "Zhongguo jingji nianjian", Beijing, 1998, p. 418.


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