Adult Education 

Just after the founding of the PRC, when illiterates accounted for more than 80 percent of the nation’s population, the Chinese government called on the people to “develop functional literacy and gradually reduce illiteracy,” which was the beginning of adult education in China.

The purpose of adult education in China is to raise the educational level and that of professional technology, and the practical capabilities of the people who, while working, wish to change their jobs or are waiting for employment; provide literacy education for illiterates; continue to provide education for people who have left regular schools, in accordance with their educational levels; provide continued education for people who have received higher education to renew and expand their knowledge and enhance their professional proficiency; and develop colorful social and cultural life education to help all China’s people lead civilized, healthy and scientific lives.

Adult higher learning institutions include radio and TV universities, workers’ colleges, farmers’ colleges, colleges for managerial personnel, colleges for in-service teachers training, independent correspondence colleges, and ordinary colleges and universities offering adult education (such as correspondence departments, evening universities and teachers’ in-service training classes), supplemented by educational TV programs and higher-learning examination programs for the self-taught. Secondary schools for adult education include vocational secondary schools, ordinary middle schools holding secondary vocational classes for workers and cadres, adult middle schools, adult technical training schools, peasants’ cultural and technical schools and agricultural radio and TV schools, supplemented by the secondary vocational examination program for the self-taught. In addition, there are various face-to-face teaching schools and correspondence schools characterized by in-service training, guidance and other training. The teaching methods provided by these schools include full-time classroom teaching, and long-distance instruction for self-taught students by providing teaching materials, and audio and video materials. The study methods include full-time, part-work and part-study, and spare-time methods.

Education comes in two categories—general and specific. The former includes the regular college, junior college, vocational secondary school and middle school levels, and the latter includes elimination of illiteracy, rural practical technology training, on-the-job training, education for single-discipline qualification certificates, education for vocational certificates and postgraduate continued education.

In recent years, the units running schools for adults have made considerable progress in the acquisition and improvement of school buildings, teaching instruments and equipment, and the number and quality of teachers, and the quality of and benefits from schools are being continuously enhanced. Schools for adult education have become an important part of China’s education. In addition to schools funded by the state, there are 1,200-odd institutions of higher learning funded by society at large, of which 21 are qualified to issue academic certificates and diplomas. Besides, there are 30,000 schools giving short-term training, in-service training, continuation courses and guidance.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.