Top educational officials in China have vowed to help vocational education thrive in the less-developed hinterlands and encourage more private businesses to support the training programs.
Vice-Minister of Education Wang Zhan said more vocational schools will be established in rural and western regions. More than 88 per cent of the labor force there have received only minimal education.
Until 2005, senior vocational schools in rural regions will enroll up to 4 million new students a year, he said. Current enrolment is 2.5 million.
Vocational schools in rural areas will also offer various forms of training for 8 million members of the labor force before they get new jobs.
The enrolment of senior vocational schools in western regions, which is now nearly 0.8 million, will be increased to more than 1.2 million in 2005, Wang said.
Such an enrolment will make the number of students per thousand people in senior vocational schools in the western regions reach 92 from the current 72.
Officials in eastern regions and big cities will train people to teach in rural and western regions to help improve the conditions of vocational schools there, he said.
The vice-minister said that companies should take the initiative to establish vocational schools and vocational training institutions so that their staff members can become well educated.
Industry associations are also being urged to undertake vocational education and offer training programs for different industries.
Wang said the country will strictly carry out the system under which workers must receive necessary vocational education before they are employed.
Local governments will take the lead to design plans for vocational education. The development of vocational education should be combined with local social and economic development, Wang said.
Ministry of Education statistics show that the number of vocational schools in China reached more than 19,200 last year, including more than 1,000 at the junior high school level, 17,800 at the senior level and 386 university-level training institutes.
Last year, more than 11 million students studied in China's senior vocational schools, which are the mainstay of vocational education in the country. The number is more than four times the 1980 figure.
During the current Five-Year Plan (2001-05), senior vocational schools in China will contribute more than 22 million graduates to society.
(China Daily July 25, 2002)