The World Bank report Enhancing China’s Competitiveness through Lifelong Learning by Carl Dahlman, Douglas Zhihua Zeng, and Shuilin Wang praises China for its many successes in education and training. The adult literacy rate has been increased from 68% in 1980 to 89% in 2004. Primary enrollment has become virtually universal. Secondary enrollment rates have increased from 46% to 73%, and tertiary enrollment rates have gone from 2% to 21% over the same period. Tens of millions of workers have been retrained as the economy has been restructuring from rural to urban, from agriculture to industry and services, and from plan to market. No other major country has achieved such rapid improvements or made such massive retraining investments in such a short time.
Today, many high-income countries are reshaping their human resource development strategies. In the face of increasingly fierce international competition, these countries are setting up lifelong learning systems as an essential national policy for maintaining their global competitive advantage.
Although China has a vast population, it still lacks sufficient human talent. One of the country’s main strategies is therefore to develop such talent by turning the ostensible burden of its large population into a strategic advantage by changing its economic growth model from a resource-intensive one to a knowledge-intensive one.
The essence of lifelong learning is to provide opportunities for people to learn throughout their lives. The Chinese culture has a tradition of placing a high premium on learning and on continuing education. An ancient proverb says “Never stop learning as long as you live.” This was true in the past, when knowledge grew slowly and life spans were short, and it is even more relevant today when science and technology make advances on a daily basis and people live twice as long as they did a thousand years ago. To establish and effective life long learning system China needs to expand preschool education, universalize primary education, strengthen secondary education, diversify higher education, and improve the labor training market to provide more learning opportunities.
Marcel Levi probeert onrust binnen NWO te sussen
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