Tang Min, Counsellor of the State Council and a member of the China Education 30 Forum
The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing about profound changes in human production and lifestyle, as well as education. With the adjustment of pandemic prevention and control policies, education and teaching in various regions will basically return to normal starting from this spring semester. After experiencing the pandemic, we have also gained some new insights into education in the future.
Firstly, we have developed a new insight into the importance of fostering virtue and nurturing people. The report of the 20th CPC National Congress pointed out: “The most basic aim of education is to foster virtue.” For this generation of students, these three years are the most unforgettable part of their brief lives and will accompany them in their lifelong growth. While the virus is merciless, there is love in the world. During the process of fighting against the pandemic, they have borne witness to the touching stories of countless medical professionals, volunteers, and people from all walks of life standing together to support each other amid difficulties hand in hand and heart to heart. This has given them a firsthand experience of the people-centered development concept of putting people and life first, and it is excellent for educating them on the correct outlook on life and fostering their sense of responsibility. At the same time, we cannot turn a blind eye to various problems that have caused confusion among students in society during the pandemic. We must offer timely and proper guidance to students.
Secondly, we have developed a new insight into the necessity and importance of essential-qualities-oriented education. Long term exam-oriented education has resulted in some educational shortcomings. The sudden outbreak of the pandemic has triggered negative psychological reactions such as anxiety, confusion, and even depression in a few students. In the post-pandemic era, schools should strengthen students’ basic survival capability and life value-oriented education, such as psychological education, life education and disaster education. Besides, the content of education should be expanded to broaden students’ knowledge span with the addition of important lessons of self-management, self-awareness, social awareness, interpersonal skills, and social responsibilities, etc.
Apart from that, we have developed a new insight into Internet Education. The large-scale online teaching practices brought about by the pandemic have set a new starting point for future changes in education. The digital transformation of education in the post-pandemic era is to improve the sharing and application experience of digital education resources in teaching. We need to leverage technologies including AI to achieve the integration of virtual and real teaching scenarios, enabling digital education resources to support teachers and students in a better way by making use of intelligent tutoring, assistant teaching, and smart learning partners. In terms of teaching model innovation, it is necessary to support eligible schools to adopt teaching models such as course selection and mobile learning, gradually realizing “one class schedule for one student” to meet students’ personalized learning needs. For teaching evaluation methods, it is essential to establish a IT-supported collaborative evaluation mechanism, involving students, parents, teachers, and communities. Vertical evaluation of the entire process of student learning and horizontal evaluation of all-round abilities in areas including morals, intelligence, physical fitness, work and aesthetics, should be supported.
Finally, we have developed a deeper insight into education assistance. The high-quality, balanced and urban-rural integrated development of compulsory education is one of the most important tasks set by the 20th CPC National Congress for basic education. Both its focus and difficulty lie in rural schools, especially those poorly-equipped ones in underdeveloped areas. In the post-pandemic era, China will invest more in further improving the basic education conditions in rural areas. At present, the focus of “access to quality education” has shifted from hardware to software in rural schools. Strengthening the building of high-quality teacher teams is of utmost importance in promoting high-quality, balanced and urban-rural integrated development of compulsory education. Poorly-equipped schools in rural areas require comprehensive assistance. Education should also be integrated with the Internet to dramatically reduce the time and resource costs of assistance. There are a large number of high-quality education resources in cities that should be shared with rural schools. We believe that the climax of east-west, urban-rural, and social assistance in education will soon come after the pandemic.
The pandemic will eventually pass while the challenges continue to exist. Let’s embrace changes and a better future for education.
Source: The third issue of Basic Education in China in 2023, originally titled “A Few Insights into Future Education Development”.