Spirit of Lu Ban spreads

Vo­ca­tional train­ing work­shops open around the world to pre­pare lo­cal peo­ple to work for Chi­nese com­pa­nies

Global Times - - Front Page - By Li Lei and Qi Xi­jia

• China is co­op­er­at­ing with lo­cal vo­ca­tional schools to train work­ers

• The skills stu­dents learn are in high de­mand by Chi­nese com­pa­nies work­ing on lo­cal projects

• China is bring­ing lo­cal teach­ers from these schools to Tian­jin for train­ing

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said on Septem­ber 3 at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the Bei­jing Sum­mit of the Fo­rum on China-Africa Co­op­er­a­tion (FOCAC) that China will set up 10 Luban Work­shops in Africa to of­fer vo­ca­tional train­ing for young Africans, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

The work­shops are named af­ter China’s great crafts­man and in­ven­tor Lu Ban who lived 2,500 years ago. Tian­jin’s ed­u­ca­tional au­thor­ity pro­posed the cre­ation of the work­shops, and they have been es­tab­lished in five coun­tries along the route of Belt and Road ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing Thai­land, In­dia, In­done­sia, Pak­istan and the United Kingdom. The work­shops aim to pro­vide vo­ca­tional train­ing to lo­cal per­son­nel so they can work at Chi­nese en­ter­prises.

“The en­tire vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion com­mu­nity in Tian­jin is heart­ened, and we feel obliged to com­plete the project and make it suc­cess­ful,” said Chu Jian­wei, pres­i­dent of Tian­jin Mod­ern Vo­ca­tional Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege. Two months ago, China’s fifth Luban Work­shop was un­veiled in La­hore in Pak­istan’s Pun­jab Province un­der the joint ef­forts of the Tian­jin Mod­ern Vo­ca­tional Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege and the Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Vo­ca­tional Train­ing Au­thor­ity (TEVTA) of eastern Pun­jab Province to sup­port the con­struc­tion of the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor.

Tian­jin, a coastal me­trop­o­lis near Bei­jing, has a na­tional vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion re­form and in­no­va­tion demon­stra­tion zone. A half-hour drive away from down­town Tian­jin, the Haihe Ed­u­ca­tion Park is lo­cated in the city’s Jin­nan district with 10 sec­ondary and se­nior sec­ondary vo­ca­tional col­leges. With the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing the “Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute” of China’s vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, the five es­tab­lished Luban Work­shops have their ori­gins in these col­leges.

New ed­u­ca­tion model

EPIP, an acro­nym of Engi­neer­ing Prac­tice In­no­va­tion Project, is a new ed­u­ca­tion model de­signed in 2010 for vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion led by Pro­fes­sor Lü Jingquan, the deputy head of the Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion. Un­der the guid­ance of the EPIP ed­u­ca­tion model, bilin­gual teach­ing ma­te­ri­als in Chi­nese and English were de­vel­oped.

The Luban Work­shop Con­struc­tion Ex­pe­ri­ence Mu­seum, lo­cated in Tian­jin Light In­dus­try Vo­ca­tional Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, ex­hibits these teach­ing ma­te­ri­als, in which com­pli­cated the­o­ries and equa­tions are il­lus­trated by a car­toon panda and lively sto­ries.

The Luban Work­shops adopted these stan­dards and train­ing ma­te­ri­als. The EPIP model has since gone global, with the es­tab­lish­ment of the first Luban Work­shop in Thai­land by Tian­jin Bo­hai Vo­ca­tional Col­lege.

“In­dia is in need of tech­ni­cal per­son­nel. Equip­ment in In­dia brought from China by Chi­nese com­pa­nies needs large num­bers of tech­ni­cal per­son­nel for op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance af­ter the in­stall­ment,” said Wang Juan, who is in charge of the es­tab­lish­ment of the In­dian Luban Work­shop.

Help that’s needed

Co-built by Tian­jin Light In­dus­try Vo­ca­tional

Tech­ni­cal Col­lege and Tian­jin Vo­ca­tional Col­lege of Me­chan­ics and Elec­tric­ity in the end of 2017, the In­dian Luban Work­shop has trained more than 200 In­dian stu­dents and 100 workac­cord­ing ers from lo­cal to Wang. uni­ver­si­ties and en­ter­prises,

It teaches four sub­jects – man­u­fac­tur­ing, pho­to­voltaic power gen­er­a­tion, me­chan­i­cal den­trol sign, and nu­mer­i­cal con­trol equip­ment – which are all in de­mand by lo­cal Chi­nese com­pa­nies. “We re­ceived a warm wel­come from the Chi­nese com­pa­nies in In­dia, say­ing that sup­port from an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tute is very help­ful for them,” Wang Juan told the Global Times.

Many of the coun­tries where China has built a Luban Work­shop face a teach­ing staff short­age that lim­its the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion.

An anony­mous teacher from an In­done­sian vo­ca­tional col­lege told the Global Times that their coun­try is in the ur­gent need of vo­ca­tional teach­ing staff, and there is a tal­ent short­age in In­done­sia’s vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion be­cause more young teach­ing staff are be­ing re­cruited to acagher demic in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion

The teacher was with a group of 21 teach­ers from 10 vo­ca­tional col­leges in East Java Province of In­done­sia in China for a one-month teach­ing skill en­hance­ment course at the Tian­jin Dongli District Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter School. That school es­tab­lished China’s third Luban Work­shop in Ponorogo, a city in East Java Prov ince, four months ago.

lo­cal teach­ers is a crit­i­cal link to form­ing a vir­tu­ous cir­cle in lo­cal vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion. In or­der to bet­ter in­te­grate the EPIP ed­u­ca­tion model with lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion, ev­ery year teach­ers from other coun­tries are sent to Tian­jin for a one-to-two month the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal train­ing ses­sion fo­cus­ing on skills Chi­nese com­pa­nies in those coun­tries need. The Luban Work­shops are de­vel­oped in co­op­er­a­tion with lo­cal vo­ca­tional schools and built on their cam­puses.

“They par­tic­i­pated in equip­ment erec­tion and com­mis­sion­ing dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the Pak­istani Luban Work­shop af­ter re­turn­ing to Pak­istan, and have been re­spon­si­ble for daily teach­ing and op­er­a­tion of the Luban Work­shop,” Zhang Ying, vice di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional ex­change de­part­ment of Tian­jin Mod­ern Vo­ca­tional Tech­ni­cal Col­lege told the Global Times.

In Pak­istan, an elec­tric power sup­ply short­age is a prob­lem that lim­its the coun­try’s eco­nomic

de­vel­op­ment and af­fects peo­ple’s daily life. Over 70 per­cent of China’s as­sis­tance to Pak­istan is on elec­tric power projects. The Pak­istani Luban Work­shop has signed con­tracts with eight en­ter­prises from both Pak­istan and China in­clud­ing Haier and Hua­neng Group to es­tab­lish an ed­u­ca­tion al­liance in­te­grat­ing pro­duc­tion and ed­u­ca­tion.

“The eight en­ter­prises serve as prac­ti­cal train­ing sites for the Pak­istani Luban Work­shop, and we, in re­turn, help train lo­cal work­ers for them,” said Chu Jian­wei.

Four ma­jors de­signed for the Pak­istani Luban Work­shop are all elec­tric power re­lated, such as mecha­tron­ics and elec­tric au­to­ma­tion.

In­ter­na­tional stan­dards

A thou­sand kilo­me­ters away from Tian­jin, a two-week sem­i­nar fo­cus­ing on fos­ter­ing in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion man­agers for the Belt and Road coun­tries was held by the Shang­hai Ur­ban Con­struc­tion Vo­ca­tional Col­lege, lo­cal en­ter­prises and ed­u­ca­tion author­i­ties from June to July. They dubbed the sem­i­nar the Luban School.

“China’s con­struc­tion and tech­ni­cal stan­dards need to spread in­ter­na­tion­ally as China’s in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion com­pa­nies spread around the world, and lo­cal con­struc­tion prac­ti­tion­ers need to know about China’s tech­niques and stan­dards,” Chu Min, sec­re­tary of the Party com­mit­tee of Shang­hai Ur­ban Con­struc­tion Vo­ca­tional Col­lege, told the Global Times.

“From last year, 47 of­fi­cials and man­agers from lo­cal con­struc­tion author­i­ties and en­ter­prises of South Asian coun­tries par­tic­i­pated in the sem­i­nar, and we re­ceived good feed­back from them. They said that they have learned knowl­edge not only about new tech­niques, ma­te­ri­als, crafts and project man­age­ment skills,

but know more pro­foundly about China’s ex­pe­ri­ence with such rapid de­vel­op­ment, and had deep­ened cul­tural ex­changes,” ac­cord­ing to Chu Min.

Luban is an em­bod­i­ment of the in­no­va­tive and ex­cel­lent crafts­man spirit in China. A Luban lock, also known as a Burr puz­zle, is a typ­i­cal Chi­nese mor­tise and tenon struc­ture which is widely used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture and fur­ni­ture.

Mak­ing a Luban lock is a part of the cur­ricu­lum of the Luban School sem­i­nar. “Par­tic­i­pants should make tenons on wood bars with a length of 8 cen­time­ters and width of 1 cen­time­ter with tra­di­tional tools such as plane and chisel, and as­sem­ble these wood bars like build­ing blocks,” said Wang Xiao, a teacher with the sem­i­nar.

“That amazed them a lot, and most trainees did it and asked teach­ers to help make their work per­fect. This is the mo­ment they are con­nected with Luban’s spirit of pur­su­ing per­fec­tion,” said Wang.

Chu Min said that he ex­pected that the sem­i­nar would spread in­ter­na­tion­ally as a tal­ent fos­ter­ing base in higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes and en­ter­prises over­seas. This will be help­ful to Chi­nese com­pa­nies’ lo­cal­iza­tion.

The Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion is plan­ning to build 10 Luban Work­shops by 2020.

At the same time, the prepa­ra­tion work for two more Luban Work­shops is in full swing. In the near fu­ture, a Luban Work­shop will be erected in Cam­bo­dia, and Dji­bouti will be the first African coun­try that has Luban Work­shop, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial in Tian­jin’s ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­ity.

“China’s con­struc­tion and tech­ni­cal stan­dards need to spread in­ter­na­tion­ally as China’s in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion com­pa­nies spread around the world.” Chu Min Sec­re­tary of the Party com­mit­tee of Shang­hai Ur­ban Con­struc­tion Vo­ca­tional Col­lege

Photo: Cour­tesy of Tian­jin Mod­ern Vo­ca­tional Tech­nol­ogy Col­lege

Three Pak­istani teach­ers are hav­ing a tech­ni­cal dis­cus­sion with a Chi­nese engi­neer in the mid­dle of equip­ment in­stal­la­tion on July 17 at the Pak­istani Luban Work­shop in La­hore, Pak­istan’s Pun­jab Province.

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