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Thanks to everyone who came to the conference and helped to make it a success. It was good to see so many familiar and new faces.


BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Chinese have joined a debate on whether students should be separated into science and liberal arts classes in high school, a practice that allows them to stay competitive in college entrance exam by choosing preferred subjects.

The debate came after the Ministry of Education began to solicit opinions from the public on Friday on whether it was necessary and feasible to abolish the classification system, which have been adopted for decades.

In a survey launched by, a Chinese portal, more than 260,000 people cast their votes as of Saturday with 54 percent of those polled voted for the abolishment and 40 percent against.

More than 87,000 netizens have made also their voice heard as of 10 a.m. Sunday morning in the website's forum.

A netizen from Chengdu, capital of southwest Sichuan Province, who identified himself as a high school math teacher, said "students should study both arts and science so they could have comprehensive development and become more flexible in using their knowledge."

"Sciences can activate the mind, while arts could strengthen their learning capability," he added.

But some people disagreed with him.

A netizen nicknamed "gentle scholar" said the students would have more burden if they have more subjects to study.

"You are not students. You don't even know how difficult and arduous the courses are. I suggest a survey among students."

"Abolish the current system of division? We have to study nine subjects? Finally we will study everything and have learnt little," wrote another netizen.

Li Yanling, an education expert in Beijing, said the division of arts and sciences classes have made some students and teachers eager for quick success in limited areas and become exam-oriented.

But she called on education authorities to consider students' academic burden when forging ahead with the reform.

Ma Jinglin, vice principal of Beijing No. 8 Middle School, said it needs time to carry out education reform and suggested education authorities start with pilot programs.

Chinese students are required to choose either arts or sciences subjects after ten years' education, which include six years in primary school, three years in junior high school and one year in senior high school.

Besides the Chinese language, mathematics and English, which are must for everyone, science students are required to take physics, biology and chemistry, while arts students study politics, history and geography.

See the article here


BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Chinese wrote to the Ministry of Education in the past month to offer advice on the education plans for the next decade, according to a ministry official on Friday.

The Ministry of Education received about 1.1 million pieces of proposals in the past month, said Tian Huisheng, said a ministry official in charge of processing the public opinions.

People sent e-mails, letters and left posts on the ministry's Web site since the draft of the long-term plan on education reform and development was announced to solicit public opinions on Jan. 7.

The plan will be the country's first education development plan in the 21st century. It will include major guidelines and policies about education before 2020.

People from various backgrounds wrote to the ministry, including teenage students, retired teachers and pedagogy experts, said Han Jin, director of the education development planning division under the ministry in charge of drafting the plan. "The ministry has never ever received so many proposals."

Han recalled a letter from a 91-year-old retired teacher. He suggested the schools to improve training on students' handwriting as more and more young people are using computers.

"The proposals were about a wide range of topics but many focused on the biggest challenges in today's education service," Tian said.

Based on the proposals, the ministry made a list of top 20 problems people cared most about education service.

The top ten problems were: How to improve the number and quality of teachers in rural areas; how to realize quality education; how to reform the administration of educational institutions; how to reform the enrollment exams of all levels; how to improve preschool education; how to reduce the homework of primary and middle school students; how to fully implement the nine-year compulsory education program; how to reform higher education; how to improve the education service to rural residents and children of migrant workers; and to enable people to enjoy equal access to education.

"We will not leave out any valuable proposals. A team made up of dozens of education experts were processing the proposals round the clock," Tian said.

Education has long been one of the most talked about and controversial social problems among Chinese.

A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics issued in early 2008 showed that education was the fourth most important issue to the Chinese people, following health care service, social morality and social security.

"Education is relevant to every citizen. Students are from different backgrounds and interest groups. That's why an education development plan must be discussed widely in the society to reach a common understanding," said Prof. Yang Dongping, a pedagogy expert with the Beijing Institute of Technology.

The agenda of the public education policy should be set through such discussions, he said.

"We hope more people continue offering their ideas about the top 20 problems we announced today, especially practical proposals," Han said.

The proceeding to solicit public opinions will end by the end of this month.

See the original here.


BEIJING, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Education issued a circular Thursday, urging primary and high schools not to evaluate teachers performances by their student's passing rates at entry examinations.

Passing rate has long been the decisive factor in judging school quality and teacher competency, which often resulted in teachers taking up students' free time for extra lessons and assigning large amounts of homework to achieve better exam scores.

According to a report released last June by the Hebei Youth Daily, a primary school student named Liu Yuan (name changed) was beaten on the neck by his teacher Li Lanju for his poor math score. Li was then suspended from his post.

Experts said the country's exam-oriented education system tends to neglect the cultivation of a well-rounded personality while teacher performance is evaluated strictly by exam grades.

Instead of focusing on talented students, schools should guide teachers to pay equal attention to every pupil, especially those with learning or emotional disabilities.

While schools have the final say on the work assessment, opinions from students and parents should also be incorporated into the whole evaluation, said the circular.

The circular also advised that teachers' evaluations be based on the students' demonstrated mastery of the teacher's specific subject as opposed to a standardized test. For example, a physical education teacher might be evaluated on the fitness of his students.

Currently, the ministry is collecting public opinion for an unprecedented 12-year education reform and development plan. The plan is said to be a very complicated project involving the whole of society.

A report on the draft plan, made by the ministry, said the Chinese government should give priority to education. It also said that the country will promote educational equality, relieve primary students from homework burdens and provide better salaries to teachers.

Last October, the China Youth Daily and major Internet portal Tencent conducted an online survey regarding a quality teaching. More than 7,000 respondents chose "concern for students," "being a role model" and "respecting and loving one's work" as the most important and basic moral qualities of teachers.

Original article here.