China’s education is fueling its unstoppable rise

By Shi Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/5 22:43:40

Photo: VCG

What contributes to China's unstoppable rise? Why has China remained firm in the face of US technological sanctions and decoupling efforts? The following information may shed light on this.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released Tuesday the 2018 results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial test of reading, mathematics, and science given to 15-year-olds worldwide. In 2018, 600,000 schoolchildren from 79 countries and regions participated. The Chinese mainland, represented by four municipalities and provinces - Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang - topped all three subjects, far higher than the average in OECD economies.

"China's schoolchildren are now the smartest in the world," Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. This might be a bit exaggerated, but it does reveal the secret of China's success, at least partly. 

In the past four decades since reform and opening-up, China has made enormous efforts in education. Its total investment in education leaped nearly 500 times from 9.4 billion yuan in 1978 to 4,613.5 billion yuan ($655 billion) in 2018, and education has already become the largest area of government spending. In 2018, with 514,000 schools and 270 million students, China's education scale ranked first in the world.

By virtue of the Chinese government's significant investment and society's common concern, one generation after another of talent grows up, having become or waiting to be the country's mainstay. Society is brimming with hope for the future, and the country's competitiveness is constantly improving.

And thanks to these talents, a group of world-leading Chinese companies, such as Huawei, have sprung up. Huawei alone has more than 80,000 research and development personnel. Its strong research capability must have benefited to some extent from the solid foundation laid by China's educational progress.

In contrast, the US ranks only 13th in reading literacy, and even lower in the other two subjects. In math, US students scored 478 points, lower than the average of 489 in OECD economies. 

The results should be a reminder to Washington. It has been constantly stirring up trouble in the international arena and interfering in other countries' internal affairs. But what truly deserves its attention should be its younger generation who lag behind its global peers, with its basic education ceasing to advance, and its national competitiveness gradually draining. 

Education was originally one of the major contributors to the rise of the US. But the current situation should arouse the country's awareness of crisis.

Of course, this particular report cannot define everything. The US is still a world leader in several educational fields. And problems in Chinese education do exist as shown by the report, such as the shortage of teachers in rural areas and the lack of learning efficiency of students. 

But the general trend is certain: China is catching up rapidly with the developed world, including the US. Because of such confidence and capability, China is not afraid of any technological crackdown and decoupling efforts by the US. The East Asian power's educational outcomes and national competitiveness are booming, which nobody can take away.

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