China / Education

Reforms provide blueprint for changes

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-30 07:51

Regional education reforms that give priority to personal development boost student happiness and satisfaction with life, and also promote educational fairness, a survey has found.

The survey was conducted by Shangcheng district in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in conjunction with Beijing Normal University. Reforms in the district have explored a new educational model that includes reduced administrative work and increased school autonomy.

"After the reform, students are happier and more satisfied with their lives. They also show a more positive attitude toward studies and society ... while negative emotions, including students' loneliness, anxiety and depression, have decreased," said Xiang Haigang, head of the Shangcheng district education commission.

While academic performance in Shangcheng traditionally has exceeded the average in Hangzhou, reforms resulted in a dramatic academic improvement for students with comparatively poor academic performance.

"It indicates the reform also promotes educational fairness," Xiang said.

Liu Bin, the national school inspector counselor and Liu Zicheng, director of reform at the Ministry of Education, said Shangcheng provides a successful regional example for national education reform.

The reforms tackled some essential challenges in the current education system.

"For example, schools have to follow instructions from many education authorities, including government departments and the government-owned teachers' college," Xiang said.

"Each department gives some tasks and directions to schools, and schools have to take them all. It is a big burden for schools."

The reform has changed the government's role from commander to server. The number of meetings organized by the education commission fell 25 percent from 2010 to last year, and the number of administrative employees in the commission dropped to 29 from 38, Xiang said.

"Schools can also choose to attend the meetings and seminars based on their needs," Xiang said.

The Ministry of Education released guidance in May on making the educational administrative system more effective.

"The case in Shangcheng district is a great example to boost regional education reform," said Bian Yufang, a Beijing Normal University professor who leads reform instruction.

But as a huge country with diverse regional differences, challenges remain, he said.

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