China: National Plan for Medium- and Long-Term Education Reform and Development: 2020, issued in 2010

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Rationale of the policy

China is at a key stage for reform and development, as progress is being made in economic, political, cultural and social development as well as in promoting ecological civilization. However, China is also experiencing pressure from its vast population, limited natural resources, the environment, and changes to its recent pattern of economic growth. In order to meet these challenges, it is seen as a necessity to introduce a broad reform of the educational system.

Concept of lifelong learning

Lifelong learning as a term is not defined in the policy. Instead, the concept of lifelong education is applied to mean that all people should be taught what they want to learn, excel at what they learn, and put what they have learned into use.

Main challenges:

  • The concept of education, curriculum and methodology are relatively outdated;
  • Homework is a heavy burden on primary and middle school students;
  • There is a shortage of innovative and versatile teachers;
  • Educational resources are unevenly distributed;
  • Poorer citizens and ethnic groups are trailing behind in educational development;
  • Educational funding cannot keep up with demand.

Main targets and measures

China's lifelong learning policy involves all stages of the educational system from pre-school education to further education. The main targets are to:

  • Further popularize education by 2020 – preschool education shall be universalized while popularization of nine-year compulsory education shall be consolidated and enhanced;
  • Deliver equal education to everyone – education should remain public welfare-oriented in nature, and equal access to it shall be safeguarded;
  • Offer quality education in various ways – dramatic improvement shall be sought in students’ ideological awareness, moral conduct, scientific and cultural attainment, and physical health;
  • Build a consummate framework for lifelong education – diploma-based education shall develop in coordination with non-diploma education. Vocational education shall be connected with non-vocational education, linking pre-job and on-the-job education.

Relevant documents that the strategy refers to:

Stakeholders responsible for implementation of the strategy:

  • State Council’s Education Administrative Departments
  • Party Committees and Governments
  • Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council

Further readings and web links:

Issuing body:

17th Communist Party of China National Congress