Parents as Partners : a case study from China, Chuzho City

1.1 General situation of Chuzho

Chuzhou City is located in the east part of Anhui Province, between the Yangzi and Huai Rivers. It is 115 kilometres from Chuzhou to Hefei, the capital of Anhui Province. Under its jurisdiction are Tianchang and Mingguang Cities, Laian, Quanjiao, Digyuan, Fegyang counties, and Langya, Nanqiao Districts. It has a total area of 13,300 square kilometres and a population of 4,120,000 by the end of 1996.

The geographical position of Chuzhou is advantageous to both water and land transportation. Beijing-Shanghai and Huainan Railways pass through its area, express ways and advanced highways extend in all directions and inland waterways link up with the Yangzi and Huai Rivers.

Chuzhou abounds in natural resources: the reserves of limestone, halite, gypsum and petroleum occupy the first place in the province, further more, it is one of the important commodity grain producing bases of the country.

Chuzou is well-known, both at home and abroad, as a place for sightseeing not only for its picturesque scenery, long history, favourable position and smart people, but also for the scenic spots and historical sites such as the Langya Mountain, the Zuiweng Pavilion and the Ming Dynasty Tombs and so many precious cultural relics left over by historical personages like Wei Yingwu, Ou Uangxiu, Zhu Yuanzhang, Wu Jinzi and so on in a history of more than 1,400 years.

The economy of Chuzhou has been increased by leaps and bounds continuously and all kinds of social affairs developed rapidly. There are more than 40,000 industrial enterprises in the city today. An industrial system has been formed on the basis of machinery, electronics, food, textile, building materials and so on. The strength and scale of industrial economy rank first or second in the province.

The foreign-oriented economy is developing swiftly. It has established economic trade ties with more than 50 foreign countries or regions. Foreign investment projects are coming in a continuous stream. The programmed area of Chuzhou, Economic and Technological Developing Zone occupies 15 square kilometres, and 3 square kilometres has been already developed during the first period.

The basic public institutions of the city are being perfected. The program-controlled and wireless telephones have been put into operation everywhere within the city’s boundaries. The capacity of power, water and gas supplies has been extended day by day. The finance institutions in the city can manage foreign exchange business directly.

In the city, there are institutions of higher education and polytechnic schools, all kinds of scientific research institutions of industry, agriculture, medicine, chemistry, electronics and atomic energy. It also has star-class hotels, large shopping centres and modern facilities for working, amusement and service.

Chuzhou, a developing modern industrial, commercial, and tourist city is rising abruptly on the north of the Yangzi River.

2.1 General situation of the educational development in Chuzhou

At present there are 2,755 schools for general education. These include 2 colleges, 5 secondary technical schools, 283 general middle schools (49 senior high schools, 234 junior high schools), 38 vocational schools, 2,088 primary schools, 336 kindergartens, 3 special education schools. The number of students on roll is over 740,000, including over 210,000 students in middle schools and vocational schools, nearly 410,000 pupils in primary schools and over 110,000 pupils in kindergartens. In the recent years, in order to carry out the law of education and other laws and regulations, Chuzhou Municipal Party Committee and Municipal Government have issued a number of standard documents in accordance with the Education Law of The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) and other laws and regulations. Among them are: Decision about devoting more resources to education; Methods of carrying out of Chuzhou People’s Education Fund; Ideas about the work on the 2-basic goals in Chuzhou: Temporary stipulations for school faculties and staff in Chuzhou. These documents provide a solid basis for the development of education.

3.1 Goals and measures of the educational development of our country

The Education Law of the PRC stipulates that education is the foundation of socialist modernisation. The country gives great priority to the development of the education. According to the strategic plan, it takes three periods to realise socialist modernisation in our country. Science and technology are crucial to the realisation of modernisation. It sets the general goals of the educational development of our country by the end of this century. These goals state that the level of the national education will be raised; the pre-service and post-service education for the workers both in cities and in countryside will have a quick development. Special personnel at all levels will basically meet the needs of socialist modernisation and a basic frame of the socialist education system will be formed. This system, with Chinese characteristics, will face the 21st century. Thereafter, with many years of effort, a comparatively perfect socialist educational system will be founded to realise the modernisation of the education.

The concrete goals of educational development at all levels include:

  1. Nine-year compulsory education (including vocational education in the junior high school) will basically be popularised. Senior high school education will be extended in big cities and coastal economic development areas. The need for infants to receive education will be basically satisfied and one-year education before compulsory schooling is being actively developed in the vast rural areas.
  2. Significant increases in the number of the students on roll in the vocational schools.
  3. Colleges and universities to train special personnel to meet the needs of the economy, science and technology and social development.
  4. Illiteracy among young and middle-aged people will basically be eliminated in the whole country to make the illiteracy rate below 5%.

In order to put these goals into practice our country takes a series of measures such as: deepen the educational reform, to persist in developing harmoniously, to increase educational expenses, to improve teachers’ quality and educational quality, to lay emphasis on the efficiency of running schools, to have district plans and to strengthen particpation of the society. In the development of the educational cause the scale of education will not only be enlarged but the educational quality and efficiency of running schools will be improved and raised.

4.1 The Reform of the Educational System in our Country

The goal of the reform in the economic system of our country is to establish a socialist market economy, to which the educational system must be appropriste. Great changes have taken place in the educational system of our country with the effort of constant reform. This can be seen from the following aspects.

  1. The process whereby the govenerment undertakes everything in the running of schools is changed. The government is the main body but urges and supports social organisations and individuals to open schools in accordance with laws. The compatriots in Hang Kong Macao, Tairvan, those residing overseas, and friends in foreign countries are welcome to donate to the opening of schools. International co-operation in opening schools is welcomed within the scope of related laws and regulations of the country.
  2. Deepen the reform of educational system below the intermediate level. The system to open and manage schools according to different levels will be improved. The management system is that a school is opened and run by the authority of villages, small towns and the government of the county.
  3. The process of reform in higher education will be accelerated. Schools will have more autonomy in recruiting, in the appointment of leaders, the handling of expenses, conferring of academic titles, the allocation of wages, international communications and co-operation.

5.1 The role of parents in education

Social and economic development make it clear that people should know about the important relationship between school education, community education and family education. Because of the one-child policy, parents expect much of their only child. They hope that their child will have great expectations in the future and parents take on more and more obligations and responsibilities. Family education is the basic education that goes along a man’s life. Parents are the first teachers to their children. Whether this first education is adequate will influence the child’s whole life. This kind of education is unchangeable and quite different from other forms of education.

From generation to generation the Chinese nation traditionally attaches importance to family education. Four hundred years ago Yan Zhitui wrote a book called Admonition to Yan’s Family. This book presented a profound and systematical exposition on the special functions, principles, methods and contents of family education. He regards managing a household as the basic conditions to govern a country. He also advocates that parents should be strict but kind. Children cannot be pampered or spoiled. Instead, they should work hard and learn to be independent. They should be thrifty but not stingy. Mr Chen Heqin, a modern educationalist as well as an expert on children’s education, devotes all his life to the study of educational theory and educational practice. Family education is an important field where he carries out a scientific research of children education. In his book, Family Education, he puts forward a number of principles such as positive education, setting good examples, early education, strict demands. All this is involved in the aspects of children’s family education.

At present there is an organisation called Focus on Young Generations. A committee (FYGC) has been set up in schools in the educational administration and government at all levels of our city. This organisation is usually made up of senior educators and retired cadres/officials. They have not only rich experience in education but also considerable influence in various fields of the society. A lot of work can be done with the efforts of these retired officials. The aim of this organisation is to care for and help children and teenagers and enable them to grow up healthily. Giving instructions to the parent school and co-ordinate its work are the main tasks to be done by the FYGC.

Family education is an important part in the education to the teenage students. It is also a supplement to school education. At present, with the development of the market economy, quite a number of parents show more concern about the improvement of their children’s intelligence as well as the ethical education of their children. We are carrying out research on how we can bring family education into a close relationship with school education. What we have mainly done so far is to establish ‘parent schools’. Almost every kindergarten has set up a parent school or parent committee. Over 70% of the primary school and secondary schools have established parent schools. Usually we have headmasters or principals as heads of the parent schools.

The school boards are made up of some officials of the school and elected parents. Activities are carried out regularly or irregularly. The main things are (a) to ask specialists to give lectures on the theory and ways of family education; (b) to organise parents to exchange experience in educating their children; (c) to give reports to parents about their children’s studies and behaviour at school. Parents are asked to co-ordinate with schools in educating their children; (d) to encourage parents to visit the school and set forth their opinions and advice and make proposals.

With the improvement of their cultural quality, parents of new generations will pay special attention to building up a new type of relationship with their children. They will set good examples to their children as well as provide verbal instruction, which exerts a subtle influence on their children. So the good family relationship and the good family style of life as well as the general mode of teaching make the children and teenagers grow up in a lively and healthy way.

Wu Qian Li

Zhu Hong Bing

Chen Feng

Liu Gui Lin