These last twenty years the Chinese educational system was the object of unprecedented reforms. The transition of a planned economy towards a market economy came along with a massification and a commodification of education.
TOPThe Economic Reform Influence the Education
The Chinese economic reform started in 1978, led to the socialist market economy of modern China.
Following its implementation, this economic system has supplemented the centrally planned economy in the People's Republic of China, and provoked a fast evolution of the employment structure and social organization: the bureaucratic culture in which everybody benefited more or less, through a collective administration, from the same salary and from the social guarantees for life, has been replaced by a universe where the competition becomes systematic and rhymes with an individualized management of the work world.
The restructuring of the state-owned enterprises, introduced in the middle of the 1990s, restored capitalist commodity relations and production while further dis-empowering the working class, leading to a sharp increase in social inequality.
China continues to invest strongly in low value-added industries high consumer of workforce. In front of a risk of economic overheating bound to an overinvestment in production capacities, it is essential to develop more qualified and more flexible jobs which grant more importance to the immaterial work and to the technologies of the knowledge.
Modernize the educational system is indispensable to teach highly qualified employees, increase the part of the tertiary activities in the national wealth, to strengthen the valuation of the human resources as well as the research and the innovation.
TOPThe Problems Arousing during the Reform
If the accomplished progress are important on numerous points (the reduction of the analphabetic, the generalization of the obligatory education, the development of the private education, the massification of the higher education), the fact remains that the public financing of the education remains insufficient to compensate the income variations between the rich regions and the poor regions.
The cost of the studies is very heavy for the rural families. The balance sheet of the reforms is thus contrasted:
- massification but unequal access to the studies according to the social status of families and their place of residence;
- demand of individual success which stumbles over the socialist watchwords keeping repeating that the collective outdoes on the individual;
- the plentiful educational resources of the developed or urbanized coastal regions in contrast to disinherited western rural regions;
- emergence of a dynamic private sector while its profit is considered with suspicion;
- opening to the western pedagogy more centred on the “learning” while claiming the specificities of the Confucian inheritance;
- the need to strengthen the creativity and the innovation while the communist Party is held in a marble orthodoxy which rejects every criticism.