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On January 23-24, 2018, the 2018 National Education Conference was held in Beijing, which underscored the need to put education first, further educational reform, ensure educational equity, accelerate the modernization of education, and enhance moral and all-round education.
Minister of Education CHEN Baosheng delivered a work report at the conference. He first reviewed the performance and achievements of the educational sector over the past five years. He said that comprehensive and fundamental reforms had been applied to China’s educational system, achieving remarkable and unprecedented results. More specifically, the modernization of education had been accelerated; people had greater access to education; China’s educational system had its own unique and distinctive features, whose strengths were more visible in the international arena.
Nevertheless, Chen also pointed out the central hurdle that the educational sector still had to overcome: the imbalance in and inadequacy of education provision. He then laid out seven focal points of the government’s long-term agenda aimed at solving this issue:
First, the Party’s leadership had to be maintained and enhanced in the educational sector to ensure that it followed good practices and core socialist values.
Second, as a fundamental task, student moral and all-round development had to be prioritized and promoted.
Third, the public education system needed to be improved to increase access to high-quality pre-school education, reduce disparity in rural and urban compulsory education, and make secondary high school education universal;
Fourth, the quality of vocational, higher and continuing education needed to be further enhanced;
Fifth, deeper educational reform was required to unleash the momentum and creativity that existed across the society, with particular attention on overhauling the examination and enrollment processes and supporting and regulating private education;
Sixth, the quality of teacher workforce needed to be comprehensively raised by enhancing teacher training and professional ethics, and improving teacher management systems to ensure that teachers were fully motivated through job satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment; and
Seventh, supportive measures also had to be put in place to increase investment in education, quicken the pace of informatization, and consolidate the educational sector legislative framework.
Chen concluded his report by setting out the agenda for the coming year, which included several major tasks: studying and communicating President Xi’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era; further accelerating educational modernization and building a strong education system by overcoming shortcomings in its structural design; deepening educational reform while seeking breakthroughs and innovation; and successfully holding the National Education Congress.
Finally, he addressed all representatives attending the conference, requiring them to adopt appropriate methods at work, e.g. frequently review their performance against established targets, improve their ability to detect and solve problems; conduct more field investigations, and seek synergy through cooperation, with a view to ensuring that all these priorities and tasks are fulfilled effectively.