Category Archives: Uncategorized

China Struggles to Meet its Education Reform Goals

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A new article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, published on Sunday, highlights the challenges faced by Chinese universities not only to meet the goals set by the government, but also to keep up with the realities of today’s economy. Read here: http://chronicle.com/article/Chinas-Universities-Struggle/131610/?sid=gn&utm_source=gn&utm_medium=en

Japan Turns a New Leaf on Study Abroad

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Breaking news on The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Japan Offers Subsidies to Start Study-Abroad Programs“:

Japan’s education ministry has announced a new plan to increase the number of students who take part in study-abroad programs, amid a sweeping fall-off in foreign study. A panel with the ministry says it will pay 40 universities from 120-million to 260-million yen ($1.4-million to $3.1-million) each in subsidies to start study-abroad programs, reports The Japan Times. Universities “will be selected based on their plans for increasing the number of Japanese students going overseas, including adding foreign instructors, English-language classes and setting up credit-transfer systems with other colleges,” says the newspaper. The subsidy is the latest attempt to reverse a decline in students going abroad and force Japan’s insular higher-education system to be more international.

Global 30, which started in 2009, is a government-sponsored bid to bring more foreign students to Japan’s universities. This year the University of Tokyo announced plans to switch the start of its academic year to the fall, likely the first step in harmonizing the nation’s colleges with the rest of the world. The education ministry has also increased this year’s scholarship budget for Japanese college-goers studying overseas to 3.1-billion yen (about $38-million) from 1.9 billion-yen the previous year.

The brief breakdown of our investigation

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Today, more countries desire to become internationalized. We want better understanding of each other. Our main focus is on China and we investigated the new reform policies that China wants to have. We chose to look at their minorities and internationalization policies. One of the most significant minorities in China is Tibetans.The Chinese Education curriculum policies actually affect Tibetans education because Tibetans have different customs and beliefs than Chinese people. The Chinese Education Policy states to have all students be taught with the same materials in schools, but it might hurt Tibetan culture. Now, breaking down the investigation on this, here is what we came up with:

Model: Nationalist-Cultural Model-Preservation of national cultural heritage; Education as infrastructure of solidifying common national-cultural identity; Collectivist; Extensive state intervention; Collective identity interests take precedence over individual rights.

Patterns: China wants to improve their education and become one of the most educated countries in the world. Their competition is Japan since they have found ways to advance with their system. China mentions a lot about wanting internationalization so the students will be able to have a hands on experience with their education. Also, China keeps mentioning that minorities make a big part of their education policies, but only they do not.

Contradictions: China repeatedly mentions in their policy that they will allow minorities to keep their primary language and encourage them to use their own textbooks and materials, but their education policy enforces all students to learn the same materials. They do not match. China wants internationalization, but their internet policy does not match. If China wants to have internationalization, then they must reconsider the regulation of their internet policies.

Who wins/who loses: Actually the Tibetan students (minority) will lose and the Chinese students (majority) will win. These policies seem to satisfy a larger group which is Chinese people. Even if they have policies for minorities, they do not match with the general policies they have for all students. They need to build a new policy system targeting only for minorities and their culture so that way the minorities will still benefit from the education policies.

Recommendations: Bring in Tibetan representatives or teachers to help develop new education policies for the minority group (especially Tibetans). China also needs to discuss with their government how they can achieve the goal of internationalization with the barriers of internet regulation. Most of internationalization begins with the internet, so we are not sure how China plans on achieving that. We recommend them to discuss with the government how they can reach that goal. We also recommend that their education policies to be reviewed again and bring in different representatives from the different parts of China to help contribute to the development of the policies so that way most of the minorities will be able to benefit as well.

Confucius Institute: Chinese Cultural Learning Center

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The Chinese government has established its Confucius Institutes (CI) all over the world. CIs are non-profit public organizations supported by the Chinese government named after its respectable philospher. CIs are operated collaboratively between the Chinese government and local universities, colleges, and secondary schools overseas. CIs are established inside of those organizations. CIs offer Chinese language learning as well as cultural exchange program to foreigners. Even though CIs are located within higher education institutes in overseas, they are funded by Chinese government. Teachers and teaching materials are also supported by the Chinese government. It is claimed that CIs are the institutes where the Chinese government tries to expand its soft power and cultural influence internationally. Established in local universities and secondary institutes, CIs give foreign public credentials that they are clearly a “education centers” that offer Chinese language and cultural learning opportunities. Xinhua news said that 316 CIs and 337 Confucius Classrooms in 94 countries and regions all over the world.  http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/culture/2010-07/13/c_13398209.htm

The Economist further reported that CIs are trying to distinguish the image of communism country to a culturally heritage country. When China’s President Hu visited the USA for four days, he visited the Confucius Institute in Chicago, the first CI established in US. He hopes that the image of China would be re-branding as a country with a valuable cultural heritage nation through CIs. http://www.economist.com/blogs/asiaview/2011/01/china’s_confucius_institutes?page=1.

CIs are also examined as a tool of propaganda to promoting “One China” policy. Taipei times said that CIs demonstrate its “soft power” on the surface. However, universities and colleges where would like to host CIs should sign a contract that will support “One China” policy. As a consequence, sensitive issues raised in Taiwan and Tibet are ignored in those institutes. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2011/05/31/2003504575

Although there are some controversial issues surrounding CIs, China has tried to expand its cultural education outreach to foreigners overseas and they have been effective vehicles to teach Chinese language and culture.

National Outline for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020): Minority Education and Education System Internationalization

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For reformation for Minority education, China seeks to

  •   Improve level of education for minorities and in ethnic areas
  •   Promote bilingual education which are local language and Chinese language
  •   support minorities and ethnic areas

 

For Education system internationalization, China seeks to

  •   Strengthen international exchange and cooperation
  •   Introduce high-quality educational resources: Attract international schools, educational and research institutions and enterprises
  •   Mutual recognition of credits and degrees; exchange of teachers and students; Chinese schools to open overseas schools; improve scholarship mechanism; increase number of foreign students; strengthen cooperation with UNESCO and other international organizations

Does language prohibit cultural exchange?

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Hi, everyone!
So, to be honest, this class was my first time delving into policy in such a critical manner.  (Although I’ve been living here for over a year so I probably wouldn’t admit that to anyone…:))

Anyway, one of the interesting things about Chinese education is the consideration of language.  I read this article posted in Sunday Age, an Australian newspaper, that explained some Australians’ reservations about Chinese language in education.  Lately, Latin has surpassed Chinese in the amount of people studying it, which is a number educators did not anticipate–or want.  In 2008, Kevin Rudd (former Prime Minister of Australia) wanted twelve percent of Australian students to be fluent in an Asian language by 2020.  So this contrast in numbers was not only disappointing, it fell short of what the leader wanted.

Current PM Julia Gillard asked that the government prioritze, and even promote, Asian language.  In the policy documents we are looking at as a group, the Chinese education is extremely proud of its language, if only as a means of creating a national identity.  Because of this, I looked at the article with a critical eye: how would that create a displaced sense of unity?  Would people who study the Chinese language be more or less likely to want to learn other languages?  The article in the Sunday Age is almost appalled by this idea, and even thinks that students might get lazy and not want to study English.  The article keeps saying that if students are forced to study Asian languages, they are just feeling force and not really apt to complete an immersion with that country or participate in an exchange program…I’m not sure I buy that though.  I think students will be more inclined to do so once they know the language, and once they can fully appreciate seeing what actually exists in another country.

Language is only part of the equation.

Here’s the Sunday Age article if you’re interested.