Post-Mao China (1976-Present)
With the death of Mao (1976), the pendulum began to swing back and Chinese education system was deemed to be a major factor in the advancement of economic modernization. Science and technology became an important focus of educational policy. Since the rise to power of Deng Xiaoping in 1978 a number of reforms have been introduced.27 The shift toward a socialist market economy necessitated not only an adequately trained work force to support economic development, but a highly educated one. The transformation of the school system became a national priority. Quality of education was again preferred over the quantity, and once again, the curricula and pedagogy took to borrowing from abroad for advanced training in the scientific fields. In addition the great revival in both Chinese and Western literature and arts in the late 1970芒鈧劉s and 1980芒鈧劉s, has had an effect on the curricula of the public school.
The policy of 芒鈧搘alking on two legs芒鈧?and 芒鈧揳llowing social and private forces to operate (people run) schools芒鈧?was recovered. Private schools which were strictly prohibited during the Cultural Revolution were permitted to open and technical schools that were closed were also re-opened.18, 12, 31, 32 Tracking was again sanctioned in the lower schools, and academic competition returned (in 1978, over 57,200 college graduates competed for 10,000 spots in graduate schools). Time spent in school increased and higher education, virtually dismantled under the Cultural Revolution, was rebuilt and expanded.14, 15
In May 1985, the National Conference on Education officially identified a number of areas destined for reform. These reforms were designed
芒鈧?to produce 芒鈧搈ore able people芒鈧?53
芒鈧?to improve secondary education;
芒鈧?to develop vocational and technical education;
芒鈧?to reform the graduate-assignment system of institutions of higher education;13, 24
芒鈧?to expand their management and decision-making powers;
芒鈧?to give administrators the necessary encouragement and authority to ensure smooth progress in educational reform;
芒鈧?to make the localities responsible for developing basic education and systematically implement the 1986 Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education.
Primary education became free and compulsory. The government introduced a law that made it illegal for any organization or individual to employ youths before they completed their nine years of schooling. The same law also authorized students whose families had financial difficulties to receive subsidies.5, 27, 34
In 1985, The Ministry of Education was abolished and the State Education Commission was established. The new Commission had greater status than the old Ministry had and is in charge of all educational organizations except military ones. The reform decentralized much of the power and once again assigned to local authorities, the right and the duty to run and financially support primary education. China however lacks an efficient taxation system, and the central government has limited resources, and funding for the education system is not as high on the list of priorities as economic investment.
Elitism has also once again become an issue. More than 80 percent of the school age population live in the countryside and in the suburbs In order to send their children to a good school, the back door connection, a Chinese tradition, has reappeared and the rapid increase in the cost of tuition and of textbooks have also made it difficult for most families to afford.17 In addition, the households became the main unit of production following the dismantling of the collectives, and peasants found that their children are more useful working in the field than going to school. These children have become the direct victims of the new elitism. Consequently the number of illiterate youths has increased and the drop-out rate mirrors the rate of overall social dissatisfaction.
In the area of teacher education, development was characterized by progress in preparing a large number of qualified teachers and passing legislation to improve teacher education. A national system of teacher qualification regulations was set up in 2001 to certify qualified teachers. According to new regulations only those with teaching certificates may teach. In 1993, A Teachers芒鈧?Law was passed to protect their legal rights; however, low teacher wages still presents a problem for teacher retention.5, 43, 44, 45, 46
To help remedy the inequalities, on December 27, 2005 the government announced that China will spend 218 billion yuan (27.25 billion U.S. dollars) in the next five years to help improve rural education. In addition, for two years China will exempt all the education tuitions and fees for students who are in any part of the nine year compulsory education period and will provide textbooks and subsidies for students from needy families. At the same time, the fund will ensure that wages of rural teachers will be paid.