People's spokespersons and political advisers are meeting from March 3 to 15 in Beijing to discuss national affairs. Reporter Meng Yan interviewed National People's Congress deputy Wei Wenlin, professor of the Precision Instrument Department of Tsinghua University.
Q: How do you describe the current situation of China's education?
A: The students in urban areas can get a good education nowadays, however, it is more difficult for children in poor rural areas, especially in the western region, to receive an education.
It is not an easy task for China, the most populous nation in the world, to popularize basic education among all its citizens. Much depends on the overall improvement of the national economy and the government should maintain the momentum of investing in education.
Q: What do you think are the current difficulties China faces in education?
A: China's education is now plagued by a shortage of funds, a low quality of teachers and poor management of schools.
Q: What do you think of the idea of attracting qualified overseas teachers by paying higher salaries?
A: Such practices have become more and more common at some universities including Tsinghua University and some have proven effective.
But it is not a panacea. I believe more overseas Chinese will come back to serve their motherland if China keeps growing stronger and stronger.
Q: How should China's education adapt to the challenges brought on by the country's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO)?
A: I think we could learn something from Britain, which has made education an industry and a new economic powerhouse.
What's more, we should include WTO-related knowledge in the curriculum to all our students so that they have a better understanding of its impact on both the national economy and their lives.
Q: Do you think that Tsinghua University ranks among world famous universities like Harvard and Oxford?
A: Tsinghua University still has a long way to go to match Harvard and Oxford.
(China Daily March 8, 2002)