Education_in_China_20051230_submitted

Education_in_China_20051230_submitted - EDUCATION IN THE...

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EDUCATION IN THE REFORM ERA Emily Hannum*, Jere Behrman*, Meiyan Wang**, and Jihong Liu*** Draft: 12/30/2005 * Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania. ** Institute of Labor and Population, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. *** School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.
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-1- EDUCATION IN THE REFORM ERA Introduction Under China’s market reforms in the past quarter century, the process of becoming educated has changed in dramatic ways. China’s new wealth and new inequalities are part of the story. However, educational opportunities and attainment are also affected by changes in educational policy. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s, leaders have moved educational policies in an economically pragmatic direction that supports and reflects marketization, and away from a radical socialist agenda. Three particularly important changes have occurred. First, reform era educational policies have sought to improve quality, in order to make schooling better serve the needs of the labor market, stimulate the economy, and promote China’s global competitiveness. Second, reform era educational policies have placed a new priority on efficient use of resources, including private resources, to support education. Third, reform era educational policies, while still concerned with access, have displayed a new tolerance for disparities within the system in pursuit of quality and efficiency. To illustrate these points, this paper begins by providing an outline of the state of education prior to market transition, under the radical education policies of the Cultural Revolution. Next, we discuss key reform era changes in the provision of education, including educational policy, finance, and quality. Finally, we consider the “outcomes” of these shifts, in the form of indicators of educational attainment, participation, and inequality. Most of our evidence about school provision and educational finance comes from published governmental data. To investigate participation and attainment, we employ descriptive tables and figures derived from unit record
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E DUCATION IN THE R EFORM E RA -2- data from a .95 per thousand micro sample from the 2000 China population census, and from the 1989 and 2000 waves of the China Health and Nutrition Survey (hereafter CHNS). We also refer to secondary sources that have analyzed census data and population surveys conducted through the 1980s and 1990s. We conclude with a discussion of implications of reform era educational patterns for larger questions of socio economic change and inequality. Backdrop: Education During the Cultural Revolution While many of the educational shifts that have accompanied market reforms in China have global parallels, the starting point was unusual. For over a decade prior to market reforms, China lived through the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” a far reaching and chaotic social movement that brought a radical leftist political agenda to the forefront of politics and educational policy making. In 1966, Mao Zedong proclaimed the start of a new educational
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