Of­fi­cials deny plan­ning to turn 600 col­leges into se­nior vo­ca­tional schools

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By LUO WANG­SHU

China’s ed­u­ca­tion author­ity de­nied on Thurs­day wide­spread me­dia re­ports that about 600 un­der­grad­u­ate col­leges will be con­verted into skills-based se­nior vo­ca­tional schools.

“The core plan is to es­tab­lish a man­age­ment sys­tem to clas­sify higher in­sti­tutes, some of which might be cat­e­go­rized as ap­plied-tech­nol­ogy ori­ented,” said Ge Daokai, di­rec­tor of the vo­ca­tional and adult ed­u­ca­tion di­vi­sion of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

For some schools, only some skills-ori­ented ma­jors need be trans­formed into vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, he said.

The ba­sis of the trans­for­ma­tion is to nur­ture tal­ented people to serve so­ci­ety’s needs, Ge said.

In a re­cently re­leased State Coun­cil de­ci­sion on pro­mot­ing de­vel­op­ment of mod­ern vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, top au­thor­i­ties en­cour­aged will­ing un­der­grad­u­ate col­leges to trans­form them­selves into se­nior vo­ca­tional schools.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said fur­ther de­tails, in­clud­ing a time­line and af­fected schools, will be re­leased later.

China’s vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion is re­ceiv­ing un­prece­dented at­ten­tion from the cen­tral govern­ment as China seeks to en­sure high em­ploy­ment and nur­ture talent dur­ing the na­tion’s eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

“A so­ci­ety’s ed­u­ca­tion struc­ture is needed to fit the so­ci­ety’s eco­nomic sta­tus,” said Lu Xin, vice-min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion. As China works to up­grade its prod­ucts from cheap “made in China” to in­no­va­tive “cre­ated in China”, skill- based talent will be in large de­mand, she said.

“There is an ur­gent need to re­form our cur­rent ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which has been strug­gling to pro­vide high­qual­ity talent with the skills and knowl­edge that meet the de­mand at the pro­duc­tion front­line,” she added.

China’s vo­ca­tional school grad­u­ates cur­rently have a high em­ploy­ment rate. In a dif­fi­cult job mar­ket, where new col­lege grad­u­ates strug­gle for job of­fers, vo­ca­tional school grad­u­ates have an eas­ier time find­ing work.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said that over 95 per­cent of sec­ondary vo­ca­tional school grad­u­ates and over 90 per­cent of se­nior vo­ca­tional school grad­u­ates land a job.

“The aver­age an­nual in­come of vo­ca­tional school grad­u­ates reaches 30,000 yuan ($4,800), and some get paid more, even 100,000 to 200,000 yuan a year,” Lu said.

Cur­rently, 29.34 mil­lion stu­dents study at 13,600 vo­ca­tional schools and col­leges across China. But vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion has long been un­der­val­ued.

“Many stu­dents take vo­ca­tional school as a sec­ond choice,” said Liu Qiaoli, a re­searcher at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion Sci­ences who spe­cial­izes in vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion. In Western coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in Europe, vo­ca­tional school de­grees are seen as be­ing on a par with univer­sity de­grees.

“So­ci­ety ac­knowl­edges both kinds of talent — skill-ori­ented and aca­demic-ori­ented,” Liu said.

Liu be­lieves that to im­prove Chi­nese vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion recog­ni­tion, the most im­por­tant step is to im­prove the qual­ity of vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

“The grad­u­ates’ qual­ity is the best way to form a rep­u­ta­tion,” Liu said.

Yin Jie, deputy di­rec­tor of the Shang­hai Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mit­tee, said that vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment will ease the grim em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion.

“De­spite tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion, the lack of vo­ca­tional skills for front­line work­ers has ham­pered the de­vel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies and the up­grade of tra­di­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing,” Yin said.

China’s top au­thor­i­ties pay a lot of at­ten­tion to de­vel­op­ing vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang at­tended the Na­tional Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Con­fer­ence on Mon­day. He pointed out that vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion should serve the up­grad­ing of the in­dus­trial struc­ture; that pro­fes­sional skills should be deeply in­te­grated with pro­fes­sion­al­ism; and re­forms should be in­tro­duced into the de­vel­op­ment of vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

CAI ZENGLE / XIN­HUA

Nurs­ing stu­dents in Hami pre­fec­ture, Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, learn first-aid dur­ing a class on Thurs­day at the pre­fec­ture’s first se­nior vo­ca­tional school.

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