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Chinese Education 3

The People"sRepublic of China-Period of Liberation and Recovery (1949-1966)

At the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, only a few Chinese were attending school or even had basic literacy skills. Mao Zedong understood the political importance of control over education, and as part of its development strategy, the Communist Party returned to its pre-civil war aim to improve access to education for all. During the period of the national economic recovery (1949-1952), the new government consciously protected the rights of the poor, and modestly encouraged locals and ordinary people to establish new schools, including private, public, and collective. Although the government did turn its attention to ensure the rapid recovering, stabilizing, adjusting and reorienting of the old primary schools, the greater part of its educational energy was placed on a policy of restructuring higher education. In the early days of Communism, to ensure rapid reshaping of the whole education system, the government adopted Soviet education patterns with its heavy emphasis on engineering programs and production labor.27, 28, 30 Although the growth of the enrollment rate was very quick, the Soviet model did not address the problem of mass illiteracy.

Therefore, between the years 1953-1955, a new policy, stressing the improvement of educational quality rather than quantity, was adopted. Private and collective schools (called "people run schools" were still allowed to open but with more limitations. Enrollment again increased. In 1956 the main policy of the Ministry of Education once again changed in the effort to accelerate development. Private schools were nationalized, education was expanded at all levels and was heavily subsidized, and indeed the growth in enrollment rate again accelerated.27 The Confucian texts were abandoned and the most important aspects of the curriculum became Mao"s works and other official Communist documents.50 Intellectuals came under strict government control and were encouraged to turn their technical expertise to rebuilding the country.30 Through redistributive educational policies, the" three great inequalities"芒鈧?inter-regional, rural-urban and intra-work unit- were consistently addressed.

In 1957 the Chinese Communist party, feeling confident in their progress, launched the Hundred Flowers Campaign asking for criticism under the classical double hundred slogan Let a hundred flowers bloom, (referring to the arts) and Let the hundred schools of though contend (referring to scientific development). When the Campaign resulted in the widespread criticism of the party itself, it was quietly abandoned and those who answered the Party芒鈧劉s invitation to offer criticism and alternate solutions were silenced.40

The Great Leap Forward movement (1958-1960) and the Socialist Educational Movement (1962-1965) further sought to end elitism by narrowing the social and cultural gaps between workers and peasants and between urban and rural populations. The curriculum and the educational goals mirrored this goal and concentrated on providing some form of higher education for all. The number of comprehensive universities diminished while the number of specialized colleges (polytechnic universities, teacher-training institutions) increased. It was during this time that institutions of various levels of teacher education were created for pre-service and in-service teachers with programs organized for the purpose of transforming 芒鈧搊ld芒鈧?teachers into 芒鈧搉ew芒鈧?by having them adopt socialist ideas.47

With the Sino-Soviet split in 1960, the borrowed Soviet model was no longer held as the paradigm, and the government returned to creating curricula that demonstrated a balance between Confucian and Western-style education. The education system changed into a two-track form that Mao saw as part of his 芒鈧搘alking on two legs芒鈧?(liangtiaotui zoulu) strategy: regular, university, college and college preparatory schooling representing one of the 芒鈧搇egs芒鈧? the vocational and work-study schooling, the other. Many saw this two legged form as a return to a system that would produce a hierarchy of elite, with the masses settling for something less rigorous in content and quality.27

 
   
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