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Article citation: Brian Roberts, (2009) "China: the reform of education", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 23 Iss: 1, pp. -
Dear readers, this is a dedicated issue of Chinese authors brought together by my friend and colleague Professor Yin Cheong Cheng of Hong Kong Institute of Education assisted by his associate Professor Ya-Qing Mao of Beijing Normal University. I am grateful to them both but especially to Professor Cheng for his continued support of this journal which has now significant links with China both through him and also through my recent successful visit to Shenyang Normal University.
The six papers here cover new initiatives/reforms in China and are presented by staff based either at Beijing Normal University or Hong Kong Institute of Education (with one joint author from Queensland University of Technology, Australia). In the first, Niu Zhikui writes on “Reforms on Teachers’ Employment Systems and Children’s Rights to Education in China”. In the abstract the author refers to the many initiatives since the 1980’s in China particularly in the context of moving from a planned economy to a market economy in China. Reforms in the employment system of teachers is one of the principal reforms, from the unified placement of graduates to a free contract employment system. The paper is critical of the latter system claiming it has not only led to a “domestic brain drain” as well as an imbalance of teachers between schools and areas, but has also violated the equal rights of education required for children and guaranteed by China’s constitution.
In the next paper, Mao Ya-Qing, Du Yuan and Liu Jing-Juan contribute on the efforts of university mergers. Twenty colleges and universities directly under central ministries that were merged in 2000 were taken as samples. The results indicated that by the end of 2005, the reform of universities’ merger has a positive impact on the universities’ knowledge production, although there was a “short term prosperity” following the merger, especially in the aspects of scientific research funding efficiency and the transformation of knowledge production outcomes.
The third paper concentrates on the efficiency of primary schools in Beijing as evaluated by data envelopment analysis (DEA) and is written by Yongmei Hu, Zhi Zhang and Wenyan Liang. New policies adopted by the Chinese government will substantially increase investment in education resources. As a result it is not going to be finance that is going to be the problem in future but efficiency-an issue also of interest to researchers in the economics of education. In this paper the authors use DEA to evaluate a sample of 58 primary schools in six districts of Beijing, hoping to find the solutions to efficiency improvement when receiving adequate investment.
A topic of much interest to international educators is that of principal preparation and training, written jointly by Professor Wu Yan and Dr Lisa Catherine Ehrich. The authors state that internationally principals are key players who influence school improvement and school change. Initially the paper gives some background on the initial principal training in The People’s Republic of China. As China has more principals than any other country achievements to date are referred to. The paper concludes by identifying seven key challenges facing the developers of Chinese leadership development programmes. These include the variability in the resources used to train principals in different locations; the need to match the curriculum with the different stages of participating principals; the role of study tours in leadership development; the methods and strategies used to teach principals; the assessment process for initial principal training: transfer of learning from training to the school operational context; and the timing of training programmes.
The penultimate work is by Professor Yin Cheong Cheng of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, a former winner of the Best Paper award of this journal. As part of his co-ordination of theme of this issue he writes of the last decade’s educational reforms in Hong Kong. As with many international cities which have experienced reforms in the past decades, Hong Kong provides a good example of one which understands the dynamics of reform. This analysis can help to draw both theoretical and practical implications for research, policy formulation and implementation on an international perspective as well as Hong Kong itself. The paper analyses the reform syndrome, “bottle-neck effects”, and their impacts on teachers and schools in the last ten years, highlighting the direction for new developments.
Finally, from the same Institute a joint paper from Ping-Man Wong and Alan Chi-Keung Cheung linking with the theme of Professor Cheng’s paper, that of educational change, with this concentrating on curriculum reform in Hong Kong with emphasis on support by school headteachers(principals). 2001 saw curriculum reform by Hong Kong’s government. Five years later a team was appointed to assess this change and to oversee smooth implementation in the next phase. The paper describes the support for reform by headteachers of primary and secondary schools where five areas of agreement are examined. As with many researchs of this type there exists a gap between the thinking of school leadership and the “grass roots” applications by classroom teachers although other areas are discussed too.
I hope very much that the papers here are of interest to the international readership and once again I express my thanks to Professor Cheng and Professor Ma-Qing Mao for bringing together high quality papers from Beijing and Hong Kong the topicality of which is evidenced by the fact that I am writing this whilst the Olympic Games are taking place in Beijing.Brian Roberts