As interest in China’s economic potential grows in the United States, educators should take note of the significant educational growth made in recent years in the world’s most populous nation, according to a report by the Asia Society.
“China has a bold long-term vision for investing in education—to raise its people out of poverty and prepare them for the global economy,” Vivien Stewart, the vice president of the Asia Society, said in a statement. The New York City-based organization recently led a delegation of state education officials on a study trip to China.
“Education in China: Lessons for U.S. Educators,” released January 2006 by the Asia Society, the Business Roundtable, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, is available from InternationalEd.org.
“They have clear goals,” Ms. Stewart said of the Chinese, “and aligned systems to implement them.”
Within the past few years, China’s aggressive education initiatives have nearly eliminated illiteracy, expanded school offerings to provide nine years of basic education for all students, and opened elite high schools focused on math and science, according to the report, also released by the Business Roundtable and the Council of Chief State School officers. Today, some 20 percent of college-age students enter higher education, compared with fewer than 2 percent three decades ago, the report says.
China still struggles, though, with large achievement gaps between rural and urban students, and its schools have been criticized for failing to promote critical thinking and creativity.
For the United States to remain competitive in the global economy, the report argues, schools should incorporate more academic content about Asia, offer more intensive language study, and improve math and science instruction for all students.