Opportunities and challenges of Chinese vocational education

Professor Nanxing Zhang, National Institute of Educational Sciences

On April 11, 2016, the National Seminar Day of Future Education Forum Tampere 2016 presented the prestigious educational scholars’ profound insight into vocational education.

Professor Nanxing Zhang and Dr. Jihong Sun from National Institute of Educational Sciences, China, pointed out the policy opportunities of vocational education in China. According to the State Council’s Decision on Accelerating the Development of Modern Vocational Education (2014), the development of vocational education has received the unprecedented great support from the Chinese government.

For example, the Ministry of Education of China has issued a series of policies to promote vocational education in terms of system construction, education reform and school administration.

In addition, in order to achieve the strategic target of becoming the manufacturing power in the world, the State Council highlighted nine strategic tasks and priorities in vocational education: IT industry, high-end numerical control machine and robotics, aerospace equipment, marine engineering equipment and high-tech ships, advanced rail transportation equipment, energy-saving and new energy vehicles, electrical equipment, agricultural equipment, new materials, bio-medicine and high-performance medical instrument.

However, vocational education in China is at the same time facing various challenges, such as the misperception on vocational education vs higher education, the old-fashioned teaching methods, the rigid syllabus, not-up-to-date teaching materials, teaching quality, teaching technologies, and the design of subjects and curriculum which is not compatible with the industrial development.

To tackle these challenges, according to Dr. Jihong Sun, vocational education in China needs to further the educational cooperation with other countries and learn the vocational education experience from the advanced countries so as to enhance the national competitiveness in the long run.