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Chinese Education in Transition

Chinese Education in Transition

Julia Kwong
Copyright Date: 1979
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  • Book Info
    Chinese Education in Transition
    Book Description:

    Recent dramatic developments in China have increased Western interest in both her institutions and her politics. However, most of the studies dealing with the 'new' China tend to concentrate on recent events, leaving undocumented, particularly, the years between the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949 and the onset of the Cultural Revolution. To supplement this gap in the literature, Dr. Julia Kwong here examines the workings of a crucial institution— education—during this period in China's history. The years from 1949 to 1966 saw swings from one educational policy to another, as proponents with differing views on how to achieve a true socialist state gained or lost ascendancy. The reciprocal key influence on each other of the economy and the educational system is Professor Kwong's focus. A deliberate attempt is made to evaluate critically the Chinese educational system in its cultural context, thus avoiding the pitfall of superimposing Western theoretical assumptions and biases on Chinese data. Part I of the work details Chinese educational philosophy, the organization of the educational institutions, and the economic and social infrastructure established since 1949. Part II analyses the educational developments from the Great Leap Forward to the eve of the Cultural Revolution. The interaction between ideology, objective conditions, and power politics at both decision-making and implementation levels is discussed in detail, as are their various roles in shaping educational policy, and, consequently, the lives of the children concerned.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8287-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    The educational system of the People’s Republic of China, like her economic and political systems, has undergone tremendous changes over the past twenty-five years. However, studies of China’s evolving educational system have lagged behind research into other aspects of her development, despite the substantial increase in the provision of education and marked changes in the structure of the system itself. True, with the opening of China to foreign visitors after the Cultural Revolution, numerous reports have been written on recent educational innovations, but these studies, with few exceptions, have overemphasized the innovativeness of reforms after the Cultural Revolution and have...

  6. Part One Socio-Economic Background of Chinese Educational Development

    • 2 Social Groups in Chinese Education
      (pp. 23-40)

      In the years before the communists came to power in 1949, the Chinese economy was both feudal and capitalist. The basis of the economy was agriculture. Over 85 percent of the population engaged in farming, and about 70 percent of the land under cultivation was owned by the landlords, though they constituted only 10 percent of the population. The peasants were usually either rentiers or hired labourers on the landlords’ farms. On the other hand, most of the large industries that grew up along the coast were under foreign control, while smaller factories were in the hands of the bourgeoisie.¹...

    • 3 Hegemonic Ideology: Educational Thoughts of Mao Tse-tung
      (pp. 41-56)

      While Marxism-Leninism is the basis of the hegemonic ideology in China, its policies have been guided by the more practically oriented thoughts of Mao Tse-tung. Even though Mao did not have full control of China at all times—he resigned from his position as chairman of the People’s Republic in 1959 and did not stage a comeback until the socialist education campaign in 1963—he retained his position as chairman of the party, and his thoughts remained the guidelines of the policies formulated. Even when policies actually ran counter to Mao’s precepts, they were still invoked as justification for the...

    • 4 Economic Development: 1949-1957
      (pp. 57-66)

      The hegemonic ideology provides the guidelines of educational development but it is not the only important determinant. Objective conditions play an equally important role. In this chapter, we shall look at the economic conditions that decision-makers and implementers faced on the eve of the Great Leap Forward in 1958.

      One major economic distinction between pre-liberation and post-liberation Chinese society is the different form of ownership. Another is the distribution of wealth. The dominant mode of property ownership after liberation was state ownership. By 1953, about 3,000 foreign-owned enterprises had been confiscated without compensation. These included many of the major capital-intensive...

    • 5 Educational Development: 1949-1957
      (pp. 67-78)

      While the ownership of property had been transferred to the state through legislation, many of the underlying structures and ideological supports characteristic of the capitalist social formation lingered well into the late fifties. From the beginning of the establishment of the communist state, efforts were made to transform the ideological outlook of the masses. These often took the form of rectification campaigns waged by wall posters, the newspapers, and the different units against bureaucracy, corruption, speculation, and other aspects of bourgeois thought. But the more sustained drive to transform the ideology of the population was through the educational system. A...

  7. Part Two Changing Economy and the Struggle for Educational Change

    • 6 The Great Leap Forward: 1958-1959
      (pp. 81-106)

      The years 1958-59 have a certain unity of their own in the context of China’s struggle for a new social order. The period is commonly known as the Great Leap Forward (GLF) when China surged forth with renewed impatience for development.

      On the eve of 1958, economic conditions looked very promising. The nine years since liberation had been a time of uninterrupted growth in industry and agriculture even though development in agriculture lagged behind that of industry. The property relationship had been transformed with the transfer of ownership of property to the state. In agriculture, cooperatives had become relatively widespread....

    • 7 The Period of Retrenchment: 1960-1962
      (pp. 107-130)

      Despite the apparent success of the policies of the GLF in helping to equalize the distribution of educational opportunities in China and to bridge the gap between manual and mental labour, urban and rural areas, they were nevertheless abandoned and replaced.

      The GLF had called for a greater rate of growth in the economy as well as in education and for the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture. Sideline industries were to be set up in the countryside. These policies were initially undertaken with great enthusiasm. In Anhua, for example, it was reported that 2,100 factories were set up within...

    • 8 Prelude to the Cultural Revolution: January 1963-August 1966
      (pp. 131-160)

      Economic conditions gradually improved in the early sixties. In 1962, China fulfilled her industrial quota ahead of schedule, and in January 1963, appeared the first optimistic statement on agriculture in three years: ‘The year 1962 has ended. The rural areas in China passed this year in struggle and in triumph. Although the rural areas in China have been stricken in the past year, the like of which has never happened in the past century, a very good harvest, better than that of 1961, was reaped in 1962.’¹ Conditions continued to get better over the next four years. The grain output...

    • 9 Summary and Conclusion
      (pp. 161-178)

      Events in China between 1958 and 1966 offer many insights into the relationship between the economic base and educational development. They tend to confirm, at least in this particular case, certain basic Marxist tenets.

      The economic substructure is the determinant of educational development. It influences educational development not only through the level of production, which is closely associated with the forces of production, but through the social relationship within the production process and ownership of property.

      Ownership of property is the most crucial element: it determines who controls the educational system and whose interest it will serve. In China, property...

  8. Appendix I Abbreviations Used in Text
    (pp. 179-180)
  9. APPENDIX II Changing Alliances within the Hegemonic Group 1958-1966
    (pp. 181-182)
  10. APPENDIX III Key Names and their Chinese Translation
    (pp. 183-184)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 185-196)
    (pp. 197-202)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 203-207)