Action Scheme for Invigorating Education towards the 21st Century
2004-05-20 13:17

                                                                                 Ministry of Education, P. R. China

                                                                                       24 December 1998

The Fifteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China set the grandiose goals and trans-century task of socialist modernization, and mapped out the overall plan for implementing the strategies for invigorating China through science and education. To fulfil the task and achieve the goal set by the Fifteenth National Party Congress, to implement the strategy for invigorating China through science and education, this Action Scheme is formulated in order to push forward educational reform and development in a comprehensive way and to improve the quality of the whole nation and enhance its innovative capacity.

With the advent of the new era of reform, opening up and modernization, Mr Deng Xiaoping emphasized time and again, science and education have become the kev to the achievement of socialist modernization with education as the very foundation. At the great moment when the new century is dawning President Jiang Zemin pointed out with penetration, "In today's world, scientific and technological progress marked by the advancement of information techno1ogy happens with each passing day. The speed at which high-tech achievements transform into actual productive forces has become all the faster. The emerging knowledge economy betokens the coming of new and enormous changes in the socio-economic life of mankind. "I the approaching 21st century, since knowledge economy with high-tech at the core will dominate, the comprehensive strength and international competitiveness of the nation will increasingly depend on the level of educational development and innovation in science and technology and knowledge, and educational development will remain a strategic priority. The extensive use of modern information technology in education will engender profound changes in the educational sector, and lifelong education will be a requisite condition for both educational development and social progress, At present, the governments of many countries have made educational invigoration one of their basic policies towards the 21st century, These trends indicate profound changes in the scenario of education in the future. We should lose no time in preparing to meet the new challenges.

Since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of CPC was convened, education in China has scored remarkable successes. Historical advances have been made in a nine-year compulsory education and eliminating illiteracy among young and middle-aged people. Vocational and adult education has witnessed rapid advancement, the scale of higher education is being steadily enlarged. Reforms of the educational structure and of teaching practices are making progress in a deep-going way; and the physical facilities and staffs of educational institutions are being improved with concomitant enhancement of the quality education. The basic framework of educational legislation has taken preliminary shape. All these achievements have laid a solid foundation for invigorating education in the 21st century. However, the educational development in our country is far from being adequate. The structure and management system of education, the prevailing concepts and methods, and patterns of human resources development are yet to fit in with the demands of modernization. At present and for some time in the near future, the lack of creative talents of the highest caliber is one of the major constraints unfavorably affecting the innovative ability and competitiveness of the nation. Therefore, to invigorate education is the objective and pressing demand of socialist modernization and national revival as well as a move to accommodate the needs of the times. We will hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, conscientiously follow Deng's strategic guiding principle of "gearing education to modernization, to the world, and to the future" , ands seize the opportunity, deepen reforms , and advance with dashing spirit to push forward education in China , full of vigor and vitality, in its march towards the 21st century.

The Action Scheme for Invigorating Education Towards the 21st Century is our blueprint for educational reform and development for the new millennium. We must make overall planning with priorities highlighted and implementation stressed. It has been conceived as an instrument for implementing the Education Law of the People's Republic of China and is an outgrowth of the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China. Overall planning, proper selection of priorities , grasping firmly the key issues and placing emphasis on implementation constitute its salient features.

The major objectives of this Action Scheme are as follows:

It is envisaged that by the year 2000 9-year compulsory education will be made basically universal throughout the country, and in the meantime, illiteracy will be basically eliminated among young and middle-aged adults, and significant advances will have been made in implementing suzhi jiaoyu (EQO education) [translator's note's a term of high currency in Chinese educational literature , which is tentatively rendered as essential-qualities-oriented (EQO) education]. The system of vocational education and training and the system of continuing education are to be improved so that all new members of the urban and rural work force and all people in employment will have unhampered access to educational and training programs of all types and levels. Higher education will be actively and steadily developed, and the participation rates of the corresponding age cohort in higher education will reach 11% or so. Targeting at the objectives of the state innovation system, a group of highly qualified and innovative professionals will be fostered through training. Research and development will be strengthened in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to enable high-tech-based enterprises affiliated with universities to contribute to the cultivation of new growth points in economic development. Efforts will be made to deepen reforms and establish a basic framework for a new educational system that actually meets the needs of the economic and social development of the country.

Based on the overall realization of the "two basic" objectives, that is, the universalization of nine-year compulsory schooling and the elimination of illiteracy among young and middle-aged people, by the year 2010, upper secondary education will have been popularized in urban and economically developed areas by steps. The average duration of schooling received by the Chinese people will catch up with that attained by the more advanced developing countries. University participation rates will approach 15% with considerable enlargement of the scale of higher education. Quite a few higher education institutions and a number of key disciplinary areas or fields of study will play or nearly play the role of first-rate institutions and centers of excellence of their kinds in the world. A lifelong learning system will be established in the main and provide plentiful expertise support and knowledge innovation to the state innovation system and the modernization drive.

Implementing the "Trans-century EQO Education Project" and Enhance the Quality of the Nation

1. To realize the "two basic" objectives as scheduled by the year 2000 constitutes the "top priority" of national educational u