Basic Education

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Chapter 2
Basic Education

1. Introduction

2. Two-tier Government, Two-tier Management

3. Primary and Secondary Schools in the Private Sector

4. Staff Training

5. Implementation of the Teacher Qualification System

6. Attracting Talents

7. Cultivating Outstanding Principals and Teachers

8. IT Training Programs for Teachers

9. Balanced Development of Compulsory Education

10. Standardization of Primary and Secondary Schools

11. Reinforcing the Junior High School System

12. Developing Modern Boarding Senior High Schools

13. Developing Experimental or Model Senior High Schools

14. Reforming the Entrance Examination and Enrolment of Senior High Schools

15. The Second Phase of Curriculum Reform

16. Bilingual Teaching

17. Class Size Reduction Program

18. Educational Information Network and Resources

19. Alleviating Academic Burden on Students in Primary and Secondary Schools

20. The Arts Curriculum

21. Practical Activities for Students of the Arts

22. Curriculum Reform and Physical Education

23. National Defense Education in Primary and Secondary Schools

24. Organizations and Facilities for Juvenile Co-curricular Activities

25. Diversifying the Popularization of Science

26. Students’ Health Care

27. Preschool Education

28. Special Education

29. Education for Ethnic Minorities

30. Support for and Collaboration with Other Provinces

1. Introduction

The system of basic education in Shanghai consists of many long-lasting reputable schools which have produced generations of well-known talents. It maintains the service and loyalty of numerous highly distinguished, knowledgeable teachers and educational experts.

Shanghai is the first city in China to have carried out the nine-year compulsory education system and made it universal. The Regulations on the Popularization of Compulsory Education in Shanghai were enacted in July 1985 to safeguard the rights of all children and juveniles of school age to nine years of compulsory education. Since the 1990s, children and juveniles of school age have been enrolled in primary and secondary schools whose qualifications have met and surpassed the national standards. Basic education is assigned to various regional governments and different levels of administrations. Authorities at the district/country and town levels have well-defined responsibilities for the management of basic education. Basic education has also been incorporated in the blueprints of their regional economic and social development. Shanghai has also made strenuous efforts to improve the quality of basic education by means of balanced compulsory education, standardized primary and secondary schools, enhanced junior high schools, and modern senior high schools with boarding facilities, model experimental senior high schools, second-round curriculum reform for secondary and primary schools, and the construction of an information network called “Xiaoxiaotong”, as well as other resource banks.

In accordance with the national policy on education, the basic education of Shanghai gives priority to quality service and strives to provide school children with comprehensive development in morality, intelligence, and physical constitution to guarantee lifelong learning and sustainable development. The overall purpose of basic education in Shanghai is to lay a solid foundation in raising national competence and training well-educated and disciplined youths with ambitious aspirations and high morals. There are now 807 full-time secondary schools and 640 primary schools in Shanghai with a total student population of 1,305,200. Basic education follows a “5-4-3” format, that is, five years for primary schooling, four years for secondary schooling, and three years for senior high schooling. There are also schools which carry out nine-year continuous schooling in line with regulations on compulsory education.

Moreover, the government is favorably oriented toward private schools, both primary and secondary, with policies emphasizing “adequate encouragement, strong support, proper guidance, and reinforced management.” Shanghai now has 148 private primary (19) or secondary (129) schools, accounting for 10.2% of all institutions of basic education in Shanghai. The private schools have a student population of 118,600, or 9.1% of the total students in basic educational institutions of Shanghai. The curriculum of basic education is made up of basic, developing, and research courses (or exploration courses during the primary phase). Chinese, Mathematics, and English are the main courses, accounting for one-third of the total credit hours. Due emphasis is laid on Science and other newly developed subjects, such as Information Technology, Environmental Protection, Anti-drug Education, and Psychological Counseling. Basic education is student oriented, catering to the healthy and sustainable development of each and every student. Its overall objective is three dimensional: “knowledge and skill, process and method, affective attitude and outlook on life.”

Further, basic education takes into account the physical and psychological characteristics of students, adopting various and flexible approaches in moral education and behavioral disciplines. Moral education is mainly composed of the cultivation of lofty ideals, patriotism-oriented national spirit, awareness of laws and legal system, true values of life, international affairs, personal morality, and behavior disciplines. Education at school, home, and community is organically interwoven to form a network of moral education, ensuring the healthy and sound development of all students. School education also stresses students’ participation in social practices and activities, which are included in the curriculum as developing courses. Students are educated about social responsibility from an early age. Students are taught how to interact with people, how to survive, and most importantly how to live a healthy life. There are nearly 1,000 practice bases of different types for students of primary or secondary schools.

The “One Hour a Day” physical training system is actively carried out in schools. Physical well-being and hygiene knowledge are also given priority in schools. Public hygiene has gradually improved in recent years, as evidenced in the health of students. The teaching of the Arts, Science, and Technology progresses well in primary and secondary schools, resulting in continuous improvement of students’ capability of artistic appreciation, expression, and assessment, as well as scientific and technological knowledge. Many schools send students to participate in various competitions held both in China and abroad for young artists and/or scientists and chalk up success.

Primary and secondary schools enjoy some degree of flexibility and independence in the implementation of the national curriculum. Schools can choose their own textbooks and students can select their preferred courses. Teachers adjust their methodology to suit their students’ aptitudes in an attempt to discover and tap students’ potential and interests. Students are encouraged to broaden their horizon and enhance their ability in independent thinking and research. Student evaluations are duly entered into their growth record. The evaluation parameters include not only students’ academic performance, current progress, learning outcome, and development at school, but also their comprehensive development, sustainability for future growth, learning process, and progress made at home and in society.

Shanghai has a fairly advanced after-school education system, with about 200 children’s palaces, youth centers of science and technology, youth centers, community homes for the youth, and playgrounds for children under the care of the municipal, district and township governments, as well as residents’ communities. In addition, there are also invention schools, computer schools, and weekend schools of science and technology. Furthermore, Shanghai has established a number of outdoor camping bases, military camping centers, children’s parks, and recreation centers for children and youth of school age. In addition, there are many libraries specially established for youth. These libraries are managed at the municipal, district, or township levels and open all year round free of charge.

2. Two-tier Government, Two-tier Management

At present, the management of basic education is carried out through a system called “Two-tier Government, Two-tier Management.” The macro-management of the municipal government and education commission is realized through policy making, supervision, evaluation, inspection of school reform and development in districts/counties. Local governments at the district/county level are responsible for the design and implementation of school reform and development under their jurisdiction. The expenditure on basic education is mainly from the district/county governments under the municipal government. However, districts/counties with a fiscal deficit are granted fiscal support through transfer payments. Apart from district/county governments, some township governments also share the responsibility of managing and funding kindergartens, primary schools, and junior high schools under their jurisdiction. All schools are, according to the mechanism of responsibility, put in the charge of their headmasters or principals.

2.1 Streamlining Administration to Empower Districts/ Counties in Overall Planning

The Shanghai MEC has further delegated power to its counterparts at the district/county level in the following aspects: (1) the approval of establishment, annulment, and modification of private secondary vocational schools, primary and secondary schools, and kindergartens; (2) the formulation and implementation of continuing education for teachers from junior high schools, primary schools, and kindergartens; (3) the appraisal of professional titles for teachers in kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools; (4) the enrolment, registration, and daily instruction of regular high schools, professional high schools, senior and junior high schools for adults; (5) the management and administration of the non-degree education programs operated by private organizations; (6) the annual inspection and appraisal of experimental or model senior high schools under different administrative bodies are carried out at the district/county levels according to the requirements set by the municipal education commission. The policy of streamlining administration and delegating power enhances the comprehensive management of basic education in districts and counties.

2.2 Transforming Government Function and Building up a Service-oriented Government

Administrative units need to transform their management style, further reform the administrative approval system, explore the mechanism of comprehensive law enforcement, strengthen their supervision, and improve the school neighborhood to create a healthy environment for school management in accordance with the law and relevant regulations. Government emphasizes the service for the teachers, aiming to create a favorable environment of policies and public opinions. Governmental intervention is strictly restricted in education. Effective supervisory measures are formulated to ensure the proper execution of administrative power.

2.3 Establishing a System to Ensure Educational Management

During the Tenth Five-Year-Plan period, closer ties were established among educational institutions, government, and society through transforming government functions, streamlining administration, delegating power, and improving service packages. A style of management for basic education was put in place that features standardized government administration, in which schools enjoying greater autonomy in management. Statutory bodies, like the Shanghai Education Research Institute, Shanghai Education Evaluation Institute, and Shanghai Education Association of Private Middle and Primary Schools, were set up one after another. And education evaluation offices were also established at the district/county level.

2.4 Closer Ties between Education and Community

Community Education Committees (CECs) are organized to better serve the children of school age. Hosted either by schools, neighborhood offices, or enterprises, such committees grow gradually into an important educational management network which makes comprehensive use of the social resources of education, deepens the relationship between society and schools, improves and optimizes educational environment, and facilitates the integration of education into society. The establishment of CECs enhances community awareness of the interaction among community education, economic development, and social progress, optimizes the educational environment, integrates moral education into society, and spurs community education. Schools are no longer isolated from society. With the support of the community, the preschool education service network relies on preschool educational institutions to reach out into households. Such service strengthens the ties between educational institutions, families, and the community, contributing to the building of a harmonious society. The educational institutions, neighborhood offices, township government offices in charge respectively of health, family planning and population, youth league, women’s affairs, and so on, are committed to forging ahead with the development of a lifelong education mechanism and learning communities.

3. Primary and Secondary Schools in the Private Sector

According to statistics, by 2005 there were 118,600 students in 148 primary and secondary schools in Shanghai. Among these schools, 19 are primary schools (0.3% of all its type) with an enrolment of 26,281, or 5% of all primary school pupils, and 129 are secondary schools (19.3% of all its type) with an enrolment of 92,345, or 13.8% of all secondary school students.

To fit into its development agenda and meet its socioeconomic objectives, Shanghai took the lead in educational modernization. In line with the prospects of educational development, Shanghai adopted a series of comprehensive reform measures in basic education. In view of the difference between compulsory primary and secondary school education and senior high school education, private primary and secondary schools need to take a step further to enhance their education quality and develop their own unique features.

3.1 Rapid Development of Private Basic Education

With the deepening of reform, opening-up, and marketization of the economy, the private basic education keeps growing in scale and optimizing in structure. It has integrated into the basic education system in Shanghai. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan, private basic education experienced rapid development. Up to 2005, there were 92,300 students in 129 private secondary schools, making up 12% of all the enrolment of secondary schools. Students in private junior and senior high schools accounted for 12.34% and 11.46% respectively of the total student population of the same levels against 7.09% and 18.96% in 2000. There were 26,300 pupils in 19 private primary schools, or 4.91% of its group in Shanghai, against 5.01% in 2000. There were also 42,200 children in 227 private kindergartens, or 14.69% of this group in Shanghai, against 9.6% in 2000. Based on the statistics of the last two or three years, the student population of the private primary schools was around 5% of the total enrolment at the primary level. Private preschool education enjoys a more energetic and promising future.

The prosperity of private education boosts the reform of the educational system. It helps form a framework in which the government plays a pivotal role and functions as the main stakeholder with participation from other stakeholders. The participation of the private sector in education has alleviated the shortage of educational resources.

3.2 Development in Private Basic Education

The future of basic educational development is predicated on what has already been achieved. In terms of compulsory education, distinctive private schools are encouraged to meet the various demands of the public. Regarding the senior high school phase, urban planning and development are taken into account when restructuring and redistributing these schools. Non-government organizations are always encouraged to set up private senior high schools with unique characteristics. New approaches and patterns are explored in senior high schools of different ownership. At the preschool level, multiple educational services are provided within the framework of the market economy to meet diverse social needs. Preschool educational institutes run by the private sector are encouraged to provide flexible and various modes of service.

3.3 Improvement of Policies and Regulations for Private Schools

The municipal CPC committee and government adhere to the guideline of giving “active encouragement, adequate support, correct guidance, legitimate management” in the development of private schools by the private sector. The formulation of municipal regulations and government rules has been emphasized. In 2004, research into local private schools was launched by the Municipal Education Commission under the supervision of the People’s Congress of Shanghai. After investigations, surveys, rectifications, and argumentations, Temporary Regulations on the Implementation of the Law on Promotion of Private Education and the Implementation Rules of the Law on Promotion of Private Education were passed on March 24, 2005, paving the way for further developing private education and bridging the gap between relevant laws and government policies.

3.4 Integration of the Supervision System in Private Education

It is necessary to strengthen the management of private education by professional organizations or agencies. In early 2005, Shanghai Municipal Education Association of Private Primary and Secondary Schools was established with support from Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Administration of Social Organizations. As a self-regulatory organization, the association has played an active role in the evaluation of education quality and revenue of private schools, in the protection of their legitimate rights. It has also advised the government on relevant decision-making and helped harmonize the relationship between private schools.

According to the Law on Promoting Private Education and the Implementing Rules, the MEC issued the Circular on the Re-registration of Private Primary and Secondary Schools and Kindergartens in September 2004, requiring all related institutions to re-register and update their school licenses. In 2005, the re-registration of 144 private primary and secondary schools and kindergartens was completed. This has further standardized the approval procedures, management, and operational mechanism of private schools.

3.5 Special Government Funds for Private Educational Development

In order to support and encourage the legitimate development of private education, the municipal government allocated RMB 40 million per year from 2004 to 2007 as special funds for private education. Half of the funds has been used on basic education, including subject research, school evaluation, school awards, and teachers’ professional development. Private schools have been encouraged to focus on quality improvement. Special support has been given to those distinctive schools to expand their scale and improve their educational quality.

4. Staff Training

The municipal government, the private sector, and the educational sector attach great importance to the cultivation of school administrative and teaching staff. The overall teaching quality of primary and secondary schools and kindergartens has been greatly enhanced. The percentage of teachers with a bachelor’s degree (or above) in kindergartens, primary schools, and junior high schools has been increasing rapidly. There are 584 senior teachers in Shanghai now; over 200 of them are in service. There are also 82 senior principals, with 72% of them belonging to the urban area, 18% suburban, and 10% rural. At present, 73% of senior principals are in office.

To accelerate the professional development of teachers in basic education, training programs for teachers, headmasters, and principals were carried out. These programs had several aims. First, they prioritized the teaching staff’s morality and upheld the principle that morality is the foundation of education. The training programs for headmasters and principals conducted by the MEC emphasized the enhancement of professional ethics, commitment, and moral awareness. Second, the programs met the educational demands for modernization and globalization with more focus on foreign languages and information technology. Third, the programs were adapted for the second-round reform of curricula and sped up the experimental process of new textbooks for various courses. The MEC instituted the rule “No training, No Teaching” and offered training from 2004 to 2005 for over 30 batches of teachers, headmasters, principals, researchers, and administrators of different levels from various districts and counties.

5. Implementation of the Teacher Qualification System

The Teacher Qualification System (TQS) is a special professional permit system for teachers. It is a basic requirement and precondition for all who intend to embark on a teaching career.

The system officially commenced on October 1, 2001 in Shanghai. It ensures that only those holding proper qualification certificates can become teachers at various levels. The application for and the issue of the Teacher Qualification Certificate is divided into three phases. From October 2001 to January 2002, all incumbent teachers were required to submit their application for and obtain the certificate. From March to June 2002, application for the teacher qualification certificate was open to all Chinese nationals below retiring age who are morally sound, physically able, and willing to teach. From the second half of 2002 onwards, application for the certificate was regularized, starting every summer and autumn.

The classification and requirement for Teacher Qualification Certificate stipulates that: (1) all teachers in kindergartens or primary schools hold an education of or higher than the preschool teacher training schools or the teacher training schools; (2) teachers in junior high schools hold an education of or higher than the teacher training college or other colleges for professional training; (3) teachers in senior high schools or vocational secondary schools hold an education of or higher than a regular university or other universities; (4) the fieldwork supervisors in vocational secondary schools hold an education of or higher than vocational secondary schools; and (5) teachers of the tertiary institutions hold a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a PhD.

The TQS is a reflection of social progress and an indication of a new phase of educational development. It helps guarantee legitimate, scientific, and standardized management of the teaching staff. The full implementation of the TQS can guarantee that the qualified are selected for a teaching career and that the elites are retained in the education sector. This will also help improve the teachers’ professional quality and raise their social status.

6. Attracting Talents

Shanghai adopted various ways to absorb talents into teaching. For instance, there was an open recruitment of music and art teachers. Shanghai Zhabei District took the lead in this area, recruiting those with PhD, master’s, or bachelor’s degrees as research leaders in Zhabei Institute of Education, assistant headmasters of kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools. Having caused a great stir, the practice has proved an effective way of strengthening the teaching staff and recruiting urgently needed talents with high paper qualification from the public.

The introduction of excellent graduates from teacher-training universities directly under the MOE and the absorption of graduates from other universities to enrich the teaching staff of primary and secondary schools are new measures taken to open new channels of teacher recruitment. Shanghai first sent out special recruitment teams to Beijing Normal University, Northeast Normal University, Shaanxi Normal University, Southwest Normal University, and Central China Normal University. Recruitment teams were then sent to provincial normal universities and comprehensive universities to recruit excellent graduates. Shanghai also adopted active measures to recruit graduates from regular universities to teach in secondary or primary schools. In the 1990s, Shanghai employed about 2,440 experienced teachers from other provinces with senior or junior professional titles. It did not take long for many of them to become the backbone of the teaching staff in Shanghai.

In addition, exchange fairs of educational talents were held to recruit outstanding and experienced teachers who would considerably invigorate the city’s educational resources. Every year, thousands of teachers signed draft employment agreements with schools on the spot, most of whom were fresh graduates, with over 10% being postgraduates and 8% with doctoral degrees. Shanghai simplified the procedures for recruited teachers to apply for permanent residence. Among measures taken were increases in post and housing subsidies and facilitation of school transfer of children of the newly recruited.

7. Cultivating Outstanding Principals and Teachers

In 2004, the Shanghai Conference on Educational Affairs proposed a project for the cultivation of outstanding principals and teachers. Launched in 2005, the ultimate goal of the project was to produce distinguished and influential principals and teachers and propel Shanghai toward an educational highland.

The specific objective of the project was two-pronged. The first was to select 200 highly enterprising principals with strong management skills and great development potentials. Over the next five years, the number will increase to 1,000, out of whom 100 will become model principals and participate in international exchanges and cooperation. Finally, ten candidates would be selected from the model principals to be cultivated to enjoy a nationwide reputation. The second task involved selecting 1,000 key teachers from various subjects as trainees. It is expected that after five years, the number will increase to 5,000, with 500 of this number receiving special attention as municipal key teachers and research leaders or master teachers. From these teachers, 100 candidates will be further cultivated into internationally renowned scholars and educational experts who are familiar with frontier theories on education, strong and self-driven in classroom instruction, reform and related research projects, and active in international educational exchanges.

Specific steps taken to cultivate outstanding principals/teachers include the following: (1) the departments of education at the district/county level provide mentors for the chosen candidates and come out with short-, mid-, and long-term plans; (2) cultivation bases are established and made ready to take in candidates; (3) the advantages of normal university are fully utilized in the cultivation projects for courses on education and individual subjects taught in primary and secondary schools; (4) overseas training bases are founded by means of exchange programs in order to send candidates abroad for further education in famous universities of developed countries. Candidates studying abroad can find temporary jobs there or receive in-office training; (5) the outlay for candidates’ research are taken care of; (6) Anthology of Outstanding Principals and Teachers is proposed; (7) the teaching and management concepts, thoughts, and skills of these principals and teachers are carefully studied, refined, and popularized; (8) subject teaching demonstration and experience exchange are carried out.

With regards to the progress of the cultivation project, 212 principals and 1,055 teachers were selected as trainee candidates in 2005. A hundred and sixteen of them in six batches embarked on overseas training programs; they included four batches of English teachers, one batch of teachers of other subjects, and one batch of principals. Over 400 candidates received training in 30 training bases, eight of which were for principals while the rest were for teachers. Other sub-projects were also started.

8. IT Training Programs for Teachers

In June 2004, the MEC of Shanghai launched the 2004-2007 Information Technology Program for Basic Education in Shanghai in line with the requirement of modern education development. The goal set for this program was to realize a balanced development of basic education and give impetus to the second-round reform of curricula for primary and secondary schools. This program consisted of four sub-projects: Mellowed Management, Effortless Education, Easy Access to Training Programs, and Configured Community. The Easy Access to Training project was meant for different trainees, such as key teaching staff, principals, IT teachers, network administrators, and teachers of various subjects. It was designed to offer info-tech training at different levels for the trainees in basic educational areas and improve their overall IT competence. The computer training for teachers in primary and secondary schools started in the Eighth Five-Year Plan. Up to the Ninth Five-Year Plan, it had become a required course for those intending to take training at a higher level. All the teaching staff in primary and secondary schools had attended the training programs by August 2003.

The teacher training program “Intel® Teach in the Future” was launched first in Shanghai in 2000. Various types of advanced training seminars were organized. The seminars emphasized the integration of info-tech and courses and highlighted the importance of educational reform in the context of the wider application of computer network technologies. In 2003, the MEC of Shanghai organized special training programs for principals, educational experts, and key teachers of secondary and primary schools. From 2003 to 2004, training sessions on long-distance learning were held for hundreds of key teachers from institutions which stayed ahead of others in the application of modern education technology.

In 2001, the Shanghai Teachers Educational Network (STEN) went into official operation. Every teacher was issued an educational resource card based on their real names. In 2004, an online symposium for principals was launched which lasted for 25 days or 600 hours and attracted 16,756 participants. The Online Forum on Teachers’ Ethics drew 6,950 registered users and 9,939 posted articles shortly after being put into operation. Four model teachers were invited by STEN to share their views and experience on teachers’ ethics.

The above-mentioned programs and projects show that the adoption of comprehensive approaches in education in a computer-network-penetrated context is a general trend; teachers will benefit from a more open training scheme, which provides trainees with more learning resources and exchange opportunities; and the introduction of online communication in teachers’ info-tech training programs can directly extend the trainees’ learning time and sphere, opening the window for them to modern approaches in learning and cyber culture.

9. Balanced Development of Compulsory Education

During the Tenth Five-Year Plan, Shanghai made great efforts toward achieving a balanced distribution of educational resources between rural and urban areas on the one hand and between different regions on the other hand. The goal was to provide its residents with quality compulsory education on an equal footing. Thus, the municipal government increased its budgetary allocation for compulsory education, especially junior high schools. It increased the funding standards for primary and secondary students, which hit RMB 520 and RMB 720 per student respectively in 2006. The lowest budget for each student was set, which would increase as the expenditure on education grew annually. All school expenditures were included in the budget for compulsory education.

Districts and counties strengthened their support for financially challenged areas by means of fiscal transfer payment and allocation of special funds. A comprehensive planning for primary and secondary schools was employed by Pudong District, Fengxian District, Nanhui District, and Chongming County. Pudong District took over the 86 primary and secondary schools formerly run by towns and villages, balancing the urban and rural education in terms of funding standard, information platform, hardware distribution, and teachers’ training and career development. In recent years, Shanghai has carried out three major construction phases of primary and secondary schools. The first phase focused on rebuilding 231 run-down schools. During the second phase, the construction of standardized schools was initiated, with 1,569 schools relocated, upgraded, or rebuilt. The third phase focused on the strengthening of secondary schools, with 193 run-down secondary schools reconstructed.

In order to bridge the gap of compulsory education between urban and rural schools, the following measures were taken: (1) the instructional facilities of 423 primary and secondary schools were upgraded after the government included the upgrading projects in its agenda; (2) since 2005, an additional RMB 300 million has been allocated to compulsory education in suburban areas; (3) nine urban districts and nine suburban counties paired up for educational cooperation and exchanges, e.g., in Pudong New Area; (4) since the spring of 2006, students in the compulsory educational period in suburban areas have been exempted from the payment of tuition and miscellaneous expenses. Here, students refer to Shanghai residents and the children of migrant workers and introduced talents who study in public schools. Currently, a balanced educational system with evenly distributed resources has been established in Shanghai.

10. Standardization of Primary and Secondary Schools

The Construction Program of Standardized Primary and Secondary Schools was initiated in 1999 and completed in 2002. Over RMB 4 billion was allocated, with RMB 2.8 billion earmarked for the construction of schoolhouses and RMB 1.2 billion for the installation of instructional facilities. About two million square meters of schoolhouses were rebuilt or expanded, 2.2 million square meters of schoolyards were built, 3.4 million square meters of school buildings were renovated, and 1.2 million square meters of greenbelts were built. Slightly over two million square meters of land were newly acquired for the above-mentioned projects. Three-fourths of the total, or 1,569 primary and secondary schools, underwent reconstruction, far exceeding the 1,360 schools originally planned. In addition, local governments of districts and counties carried out the reconstruction of all special education schools and reformatories to meet the standards set by the municipal government.

The completion of the project not only increased the supply capacity of basic education, but also optimized educational resources. It marked the start of a new phase for the development of primary and secondary schools, leading to the modernization of basic education in Shanghai.

In the meantime, the MEC took steps to enhance the academic attainments and teaching ability of the teachers in those standardized schools. Experienced key teachers introduced by education authorities were first assigned to standardized schools, which also had the priority in admitting fresh graduates from teacher-training universities. To deal with the shortage of teachers in the remote areas, teaching staff with tertiary education and strong adaptation abilities were assigned to teach in the rural schools for a prescribed period. Key teachers were encouraged to teach in standardized schools or join those teaching staff working temporarily in remote areas. The administrative team in the standardized schools was continuously strengthened to enhance the overall quality of education.

11. Reinforcing the Junior High School System

The campaign to reinforce the development of junior high schools was launched in September 2002 and concluded in 2005. This campaign was meant to bridge the gap among schools in different regions and different schools at the same level in terms of educational resources.

More funds were allocated to junior high school education. In 2006, every junior high school student received RMB 720 in the form of public financial support. The 19 districts and counties in Shanghai earmarked RMB 8.565 billion for the construction of junior high schools. All 547 public schools under supervision met the standards for second-rate schools set by the municipal authorities. Out of this number, 64.24% met the standards for the first-rate schools. More favorable policies on compulsory education in the rural areas, especially at the junior high school level, were formulated and implemented. For instance, RMB 300 million was allocated for the improvement of school facilities and recruitment of teaching staff for schools located in the remote suburbs. Allocation of educational resources was optimized, new equipment was purchased, and proper measures were taken to recruit and train principals and teaching staff in junior high schools in remote suburban areas. Top schools were paired up with neighborhood schools for mutual aid.

As a result of this campaign, there was a sharp increase in the percentage of key teachers: 50.6% of junior high schools in Shanghai had over 5% of senior teachers, while 29.26% of the schools had over 10% of senior teachers. Many junior high schools with comparatively poor facilities took on a new look.

Teaching-oriented research was emphasized with a view to promoting school development and the overall quality of education. Schools listed for focused development were required to carry out subject research, deepen educational reform, and explore the laws that govern the learning process. In some districts, unique educational modes were tested; other districts stressed the accumulation of experience through solving actual problems and the importance of comparative research. Moreover, a system for monitoring and assessing the educational quality was established to strengthen the management of the learning process.

12. Developing Modern Boarding Senior High Schools

In the 1990s, the Shanghai Municipal Government (SMG) decided to build a number of senior high schools with modern boarding facilities in the suburban areas of Shanghai. The building process was divided into two phases. The planning of Phase One started at the end of 1996. By 1999, 11 schools had been completed and were ready to take in students, with a total school area of 1,700 mu and schoolhouses of 528,000 square meters. Phase Two involved four suburban districts: Fengxian District, Nanhui District, Jinshan District, and Chongming District. These were chosen as the sites for four new senior high schools with modern boarding facilities. By April 2004, the schools had been completed and gone into operation. As a result, each of the 19 districts and counties in Shanghai had senior high schools with modern boarding facilities.

The development of schools with modern boarding facilities contributed to another wave of development of senior high school education in Shanghai. Local governments at the district and county levels allocated additional funds for the expansion or rebuilding of senior high schools. Now there are 20 standardized senior high schools with modern boarding facilities that have 37,000 students in 840 classes, accounting for about 12% of all senior high school students in Shanghai.

The advantages and characteristics of senior high schools with modern boarding facilities can be summarized as below: students enjoy a full range of learning resources. The curriculum focuses on student’s personal development while the schools are keen on curriculum innovation.

Internationalization of basic education is one of the objectives for the building of senior high schools with modern boarding facilities. Every school is expected to keep pace with international educational reforms, provide educational services to foreign students, actively engage in international educational and cultural exchanges, and set up international divisions (among the 20 senior high schools with modern boarding facilities, four have international divisions and one has set up an international cooperation unit) in an attempt to systematically introduce and study the curricular of developed countries, courses of International Baccalaureate (IB), and textbooks in their original languages. In addition, the use of English as the medium of instruction will enhance the bilingual teaching capability of teachers. Admission of foreign students will help improve their international services. These Shanghai schools have also established sister-school relations with famous foreign counterparts and conducted exchanges of students and teachers with them.

13. Developing Experimental or Model Senior High Schools

The State Council’s Decision on Educational Reform and Development in China called for the establishment of quality-oriented experimental or model senior high schools in both urban and rural areas. The national conference on education in senior high schools concluded that Shanghai should build a first-class basic education system. The MEC of Shanghai promulgated in April 1999 a series of policies including Standards of Experimental or Model Senior High Schools in Shanghai, Planning Requirements for Experimental or Model Senior High Schools, and Planning Assessment on Experimental or Model Senior High Schools. This marked the official launch of the development programs on experimental or model senior high schools in Shanghai.

The programs aimed at the formation of a distinctive school culture and an active development mechanism. The exemplary function and radiating influence of experimental or model senior high schools were also stressed so as to enhance the quality of basic education. These programs were realized through an appraisal mechanism whereby the government supervises, schools submit applications, and experts and the public evaluates. A three-step strategy was adopted: first, planning appraisal; second, mid-term check on the plan implementation in schools that have passed planning appraisal; third, final check on the realization of the planned objectives and the unique features of these schools. This appraisal mechanism proved very effective in promoting the development of experimental or model senior high schools.

After six years of development, the MEC had officially given the title “Experimental or Model Senior High School” to 39 schools in March and September 2005. In addition, another 11 schools have, as of today, gone through the appraisal of their plans to transform themselves into experimental or model senior high schools.

14. Reforming the Entrance Examination and Enrolment of Senior High Schools

By the end of the 1990s, Shanghai had popularized senior high school education, with an average annual enrolment rate above 98%. In 2005, the rate reached 99% while the ratio between regular senior high schools and vocational senior high schools approximated 6:4. In recent years, the city’s entrance examination system for senior high school has undergone such major reforms as introducing the entrance examination system for graduating junior high school students, improving the comprehensive evaluation system for every junior high school graduate, and pushing further the restructuring of the enrolment procedures. The goal was to ensure that a student’s academic performance is integrated with his/her comprehensive quality evaluation.

In 2005, the examination system for junior high school graduates was implemented. The examination results were used not only to determine whether a student was qualified to graduate, but also to enroll students in senior high schools. The evaluation system for students’ comprehensive quality was established and regularly improved. The Student Evaluation Report Book was compiled in 1999, and revised as The Growth Record of Students in Primary and Junior High Schools in 2004. It finally evolved into the 2005 version titled Growth Record of Students in Shanghai, which has become a significant base for assessing students’ graduation qualification as well as their admission in senior high schools.

As for enrolment reform, Shanghai had been moving toward a system in which both a student’s academic performance and his/her comprehensive quality are considered in the process of enrolment. Since 2003, top junior high school graduates in Shanghai have been exempted from entrance examinations but enrolled directly upon recommendation into experimental or model senior high schools or national demonstration majors in secondary vocational schools. The number of such recommended graduates had been on the rise. In 2005, these students accounted for 30% of the total enrolment of senior high schools in Shanghai. Over half of these students came from districts or counties out of Shanghai. Students enrolled through recommendation came to 10% of the student population of senior vocational schools.

In 2006, 26 experimental or model senior high schools and 30 national key vocational schools started to enroll independently. The planned independent enrolment was no more than 5% of the total enrolment of the year. The enrolment plan was instituted by schools themselves, with approval from municipal or district education departments. The enrolment was based on an evaluation of students’ academic performance and comprehensive quality.

15. The Second Phase of Curriculum Reform

The second phase of curriculum reform in primary and secondary schools, as well as kindergartens, in Shanghai started in 1998. A year later, the pilot reform of single-subject textbooks began, with full-scale reform following in 2002. From the autumn of 2004 to the end of 2005, the reform was carried out in all primary and junior high schools, and in 2006 in senior high schools.

In order to ensure the smooth implementation of the reform, the MEC organized different training programs for educational administrative personnel, researchers, principals, and teaching staff. In 2005, the Basic Education Resource Center was established. At the same time, schools where reform was carried out conducted various demonstrative seminars so that best practices were to be made known to more schools. As per the schedule of the second phase of the curriculum reform, new curricular and textbooks were introduced to primary schools in the autumn of 2004, to junior high schools in the autumn of 2005, and to senior high schools in 2006.

The second phase of the curriculum reform highlighted a new concept “All should be done for students’ development” and a curriculum structure that is composed of three types, namely “the Basic Type,” “the Trailblazer Type,” and “the Research Type.” Moreover, an integrated curriculum called the “Comprehensive & Single Subject” pattern was designed and applied in three subjects, namely science, society, and the arts.

In 2001, the pilot project of a new curriculum commenced in Shanghai. Fifty-one senior high schools, 50 junior high schools, 50 primary schools, and 28 kindergartens were chosen as experimental bases for the curriculum reform, which was officially kick started in the autumn of 2002. In order to enhance its regional feasibility and relevance, the pilot project was extended in 2005 to cover another five districts and counties, with another 57 new schools included. The pilot project focused on the reformed curriculum and new textbooks. Participating schools have gained a lot of experience.

Generally, the curriculum reforms have so far yielded the following results: (1) curriculum development and teaching were improved. Each school’s distinctive characteristics and features were strengthened and integrated into the curriculum development and reform; (2) the basic model of classroom instruction has been considerably enhanced. The cultivation of students’ enthusiasm for learning was given more attention. A more democratic relationship between teachers and students was also nurtured in class activities, with students encouraged to explore by themselves and cooperate with each other in learning and research; (3) teachers’ capability for educational research and reform has been enhanced. Many teachers showed great enthusiasm for curriculum research and development. Young teachers played an important role, pushing forward the overall reform of classroom teaching; (4) students became more innovative and acquired more practical abilities. Through taking courses of Trailblazer Type and Research Type, students have acquired a broader horizon and become more closely connected with society. Armed with enriched learning experience and innovative spirit, students have acquired more practical abilities, such as detecting and solving problems.

16. Bilingual Teaching

The second phase of curriculum reform started in 1998, when some primary and secondary schools experimented with bilingual teaching. In 2001, the model was officially introduced in some municipal key secondary schools and a few other primary and secondary schools well equipped with foreign language teaching facilities. In 2002, the model was expanded to more schools.

The bilingual teaching model was meant to concentrate the teaching resources of foreign languages under the current circumstances. The model provided students with a broader learning platform, more study time and space, easier access to foreign languages, and a better learning environment. It would improve the foreign language aptitudes of the students in Shanghai.

The bilingual teaching model has been steadily implemented on a large scale in Shanghai. Due to steady expansion, the model has been adopted in more than 300 schools. About 5,000 teachers of 48 subjects are able to teach in two languages at various levels, involving about 100,000 students. The model has been warmly welcomed by the public who in turn offered tremendous support to its implementation. Moreover, over the past three years of experiment, the teaching of English has greatly improved. During their visits, many national leaders and foreign friends were amazed at and spoke highly, of the English language aptitude of students in primary and secondary schools in Shanghai.

17. Class Size Reduction Program

The Class Size Reduction Program (CSRP) is one of the most important measures taken to facilitate the modernization of basic education, implement quality education on a full scale, and offer students effective routes toward full development. Beginning with 12 primary schools since 1997, the CSRP has developed into an educational concept, a strategy of enlightenment, pedagogy, and a teaching pattern. It has also boosted educational reforms.

The program has been carried out by more and more schools. At present, of the 646 primary schools in Shanghai, 44% (281) have implemented the program from the first grade. Of the 349 junior high schools, 19% (66) have carried out research on it. Of the 128 schools practicing the nine-year-continuous schooling system in Shanghai, 24% (31) have begun the program from the first grade. Highly commended by parents, the implementation of CSRP has deepened curriculum reform on the one hand and enhanced educational quality as well as students’ overall development on the other.

Research seminars on CRSP have also been held for participating schools of the program to exchange experiences. A series of activities, such as lectures on classroom observation and evaluation, principals’ sharing experiences related to the implementation of the program, have enhanced these pilot schools’ research.

18. Educational Information Network and Resources

Xiaoxiaotong, the network of educational information for primary and secondary schools in Shanghai, was completed at the end of 2002. Using the MPLS VPN system of Shanghai Telecom, it links up 19 district/county educational information centers with that of the MEC, enabling its users to enjoy the rich resources provided by both Shanghai Educational Science Network and Shanghai Telecom. These two ICPs and the MEC information center each have a bandwidth of 100MB, while each of the 19 centers of districts has a bandwidth of 10MB. Xiaoxiaotong has contributed considerably to the basic education in Shanghai since its launch.

However, new requirements have been raised for Xiaoxiaotong due to the continuous development of internet technology, the increasing number of users, the ever-growing demand for video conferences, and the implementation of the “Smooth Management Project.” At present, the main bandwidth of the MEC information center and Shanghai Telecom have exceeded a saturated point of 90% in utilization. Major upgrading of the system, including network performance, security, and management, was carried out in 2006 to ensure the smooth operation of Xiaoxiaotong.

In addition, Shanghai has also decided to build a high-quality educational resources bank in three years starting from 2004 to provide the municipal educational system with reliable and rich resources. The second phase of the curriculum reform in primary and secondary schools in Shanghai and the training program for teachers focused on the building of the educational resources bank. It is supplemented with movie and educational PC game databases.

So far, the resources bank for preschool education, basic education, vocational education, higher education, continuing education, and lifelong education has been completed, with emphasis on basic education. Based on the standard of information technology and the educational industry, a distributed software setting based on inter-operational standard data is to be constructed. The first two phases of the software and hardware platforms have been completed, with resources amounting to 2,279 gigabytes. The third phase is under way. In compliance with the requirement of the second phase of curriculum reform, the resources bank for basic education will cover every session of classroom teaching which is digitalized and stored in cyberspace with 252 different textbooks for primary, junior, and senior high schools. The integration of educational resources for the urban and suburban districts and schools will be further improved.

19. Alleviating Academic Burden on Students in Primary and Secondary Schools

Alleviating the academic burden of students in primary and secondary schools is an important step toward achieving quality education. The first step taken was to reinforce legal management. The General Office of Shanghai Municipal Government (SMG) issued Suggestions on Actual Alleviation of Excessive Academic Burdens on Students in Primary and Secondary Schools in 2004. In the same year, the Standing Committee of Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress passed the Shanghai Regulations on the Protection of Minors, which prohibits aptitude test or test in other forms related to school admission during the period of compulsory education.

The second step was to start with reforms and address the problem through multiple channels. Shanghai has been carrying out the first two phases of the curriculum reforms since 1998. To alleviate the burden and meet the requirements of quality education, Shanghai recompiled textbooks, implemented new courses, and rationalized students’ homework. Improved classroom teaching efficiency was another option; this was achieved through the popularization of reform experience, better school operation, and higher education, along with expert guidance and assistance. Teachers were encouraged to volunteer tuition to academically challenged students. Yet another way to ameliorate students’ burden was to reform the examination system. Also, no senior teacher was allowed to provide paid tutoring services, helping lighten the moral burden upon teachers.

The third step was to define responsibility and strengthen supervision and investigation. Shanghai Educational Supervision Office organized both full- and part-time inspectors to carry out special school inspection from the second half of 2004 to the first half of 2005. The Team of Municipal Educational Information Inspection was also formed to investigate the burden alleviation.

The fourth step was to reform the entrance examination system. No certificates should be related to enrolment exercises. Instead, all students would be admitted into public schools in their neighborhoods during the compulsory education phase. More and more excellent graduates from junior high schools would be enrolled with recommendations made to the experimental or model senior high schools.

University enrolment should comply with the principle of comprehensive evaluation, multiple choices, and independent enrolment. Apart from these, the content of the entrance examination should also be reformed. The examination questions should be limited to the curriculum, allowing no bizarre, peculiar, or overly difficult questions.

Finally, all segments of the society should pay attention to the alleviation of students’ academic burden. Public cultural facilities and educational bases need to be open to students. Various educational activities are to be conducted by communities to enrich students’ co-curricular life. At the same time, the mass media also need to help supervise and guide public opinion. Educational supervision departments should regularly evaluate the alleviation program and publish the results to the general public.

20. The Arts Curriculum

Courses are the main channel through which schools carry out art education to enhance students’ aesthetics. At present, all schools under the nine-year compulsory education system and 95% of all senior high schools are offering art courses. Based on this, Shanghai has reformed its compulsory courses by offering more optional ones and enlivening activity-oriented courses. The integration of resources for art education has led to the innovation of the art curriculum.

Concerning compulsory courses, the singular stress on vocal “music” was replaced by “Sing & Dance” class for the lower grades and other supplementary activities, such as the use of musical instruments in the classroom for other grades. The subject of Drawing was replaced by visual arts, crafts, and sculpture. Senior high school students have access to advanced courses on art appreciation based on multi-media facilities and courseware.

In terms of optional courses, more than 20 optional art courses such as The Art of Movie, The Art of Pottery, Appreciation of Peking & Kunqu Operas, Choir, and Dancing and Body Shaping have been developed for students. These courses offered students different developmental directions according to their individual interests and physical conditions.

21. Practical Activities for Students of the Arts

The primary and secondary schools in Shanghai have organized and participated in many multi-tiered and multifarious art activities. Among these activities are the Cuckoo Music Festival, the Golden Peacock Dancing Festival, the Students’ Drama Festival, the Students’ Film Festival, and the Students’ Art Festival. In the past decade, these festive activities have attracted millions of students.

The first training programs on national culture for youth were launched in 2005 with funding from the municipal government. The government set aside RMB 10 million for the ten training programs including Peking Opera, Kunqu Opera, folk songs and dances, 33 training bases, and 100 training classes. Over 6,000 students have benefited from these programs.

The art activities of students in Shanghai are often connected with international exchanges. Shanghai International Children’s Arts Festival was successfully held in 1994, 1997, and 2000. Young artists from more than 60 countries visited Shanghai during the festivals. Shanghai students also performed at the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Middle School Games in 1998. Shanghai International High School Students Chorus Festival in 2005 attracted nearly 400 participants from Germany, Australia, Jordan, and other countries. From 1997 to 1998, about 20 student arts troupes of Shanghai visited East Asia, Australia, Europe, and America. Shanghai Student Arts Troupe attended the 22nd Annual Conference on International Music Education in Holland and achieved such a resounding success that the Amsterdam Daily suggested that all art students in Holland should come and experience the charms of Chinese art.

22. Curriculum Reform and Physical Education

As part of the curriculum reform, Shanghai also set down the Standards for Physical Education and Body Building, and compiled the PE textbooks for students from primary to secondary schools.

The textbook, Physical Education and Body Building, was prepared in accordance with the laws governing the mental and physical development of juveniles. It shifted its focus from competitive sports items to more practical and interesting body building activities, offering students a wider range of choices in PE.

The MEC of Shanghai requires all students to have one hour of physical exercises per day. The total teaching time should be controlled in order to alleviate the academic burden on students. All schools should arrange two or three periods of PE and two sessions of physical training each week. In addition, eye exercises and regular physical exercises are also organized on a daily basis.

Various physical exercises, such as co-curricular activities, should be encouraged among students. Apart from such regular items as track and field, swimming, basketball, volleyball, and football games, traditional and trendy sports should also be organized. These sports include, among others, badminton, chess, rope skipping, shuttlecock kicking, martial art, rock climbing, tennis, skateboard, bridge, and orienteering.

23. National Defense Education in Primary and Secondary Schools

School-based education is the basis of nationwide education in national defense. Under the new circumstances brought about by reform and opening-up, education in national defense in primary and junior high schools has been organically integrated into moral education and other educational activities.

In primary schools, one lecture period on a topic is arranged each week, adding up to 36 class hours every year. In addition, the establishment of the youth military school and military summer camp gives students more opportunities to get acquainted with military affairs. In junior high schools, education in national defense centers on civil defense. Students learn how to protect themselves during war against deadly weapons, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and how to protect themselves against disasters, chemicals, and fires. They also learn how to cooperate in rescue and evacuation, apply first aid to others and themselves, and always bear traffic safety in mind. Education in national defense can also be integrated with visits to relevant organizations and co-curricular activities.

Senior high schools approach education in national defense quite differently. The training programs for would-be soldiers and courses of basic military theories are integrated into school curricula. All newly enrolled students of senior high schools are required to take part in a ten-day intensive military training program in the summer before their entrance to schools. At the same time, one lecture period on a specific topic each week is set aside in the morning or noon meeting for the first-year and junior students, adding up to 36 class hours each year. Senior high school students are required to learn National Defense and Military Service Law.

Students in junior high schools focus on Civil Defense Skills while those in primary schools study the Basics of National Defense. Aside from military training as required by law, education in national defense is combined with subject learning, such as co-curricular activities and social practices.

24. Organizations and Facilities for Juvenile Co-curricular Activities

The first educational organization for students’ co-curricular activities was organized in 1953. In recent years, a number of similar organizations and facilities have been built. At present, there are six municipal-level and 30 district-level facilities, including Juvenile Activity Centers, Children’s Palaces, Youth Centers of Science and Technology, and Camp Sites. Sixteen of the facilities cover an area over 10,000 square meters, ten facilities over 5,000 square meters, six facilities over 2,000 square meters, and the rest below 2,000 square meters. Zhongfuhui Children’s Palace and Pudong New Area Children’s Palace cover an area of over 20,000 square meters each. The Oriental Green Boat, a camping site for juvenile co-curricular activities, was built at a cost of RMB 1 billion over a stretch of land of 5,600 mu.

In such organizations, the director or head is responsible for the overall operation. Full-time and part-time teachers are hired to undertake new projects and topical research. These organizations largely depend on government financial support and social donations for infrastructure development, daily expenses, and salary payment.

Now there are more than 2,500 full-time teachers, staff, and workers in these organizations. Among the full-time teachers, 85.51% have received tertiary education; 76.04% are holders of intermediate academic titles; and 13.84% are senior teachers in secondary schools. In addition, a number of part-time teachers, most of whom are reputable educators, artists, scientists and social workers, are also employed by these organizations.

These organizations and facilities have played a part in promoting educational reforms. Off-campus education is no longer a mere supplement or an extension of school-based education. Rather, it has been trying to integrate with school-based education and push forward school-based educational reforms. In organizing various activities for students, they follow closely the concept of student-oriented quality education. They are open to minors at no cost.

25. Diversifying the Popularization of Science

The Youth Science and Technology Festivals are held in Shanghai biennially, attracting over a million students. The districts, counties, and even schools also hold their own S&T Festival, S&T Month, and S&T Week. The MEC also holds, on a regular basis, S&T Rising Stars Contests, which attract thousands of students. So far, 80 students have earned the honor of Tomorrow’s Stars of S&T, and 320 students Rising Stars of S&T.

S&T societies and interest groups are encouraged among students. At present, there are 3,217 such societies and interest groups active in primary and secondary schools. These student organizations often conduct independent subject studies, research activities, lectures, and societal festivals. They also do community services.

To secure the sustainable development of S&T education for youth, in 2002, the MEC set up the Academician Advisory Panel (AAP), Principal Advisory Panel (PAP), and other advisory bodies. Made up of about 100 distinguished professors, these bodies hold lectures on advanced science and technology in primary and secondary schools every year, and also organize activities such as coaching, consultation, and forums. By 2003, these bodies have managed to attract a total of 107,615 volunteers.

26. Students’ Health Care

Precautionary measures have been taken over the years against the six most common diseases (myopia, trachoma, anemia, undernourishment, intestimal worms, and decayed teeth) among students. To effectively monitor students’ health status, every student is issued a Health Card and a Vaccine Plan Card. The cost of health care is included in the “one fee for all” system (that is, students are charged a one-time payment that covers tuition and other expenses for a semester) to secure regular medical checkups for students. The psychological well-being of students is also getting more attention nowadays. Over 95% of the schools include education on the psychological well-being of students in their administrative plan and 1,100 schools offer special courses to students.

Public health has been formally put on the school agenda. A three-tier management network, comprising municipal government, district administration, and school board, has been established as a precautionary measure against SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). A series of new precautionary measures (that is, morning check, report, medical observation, and sanitization) against infectious diseases has been instituted. Such hygienic behaviors as frequent ventilation of classrooms and washing hands properly have been brought home to students. Also, various emergency plans have been made in advance.

More than ten themes have been chosen for educational programs on hygiene, such as Love Your Teeth, Precautions against Respiratory Diseases, Eye Hygiene, Psychological Well-being, First-aid Treatment, Adolescent Health Care, Student Nutrition, Food Sanitation, Away from AIDS, and Anti-Smoking Education.

27. Preschool Education

Shanghai has accelerated the development of preschool education to meet the need of the public, as well as that for socioeconomic development. So far, the three-year preschool education has been popularized. In 2005, 287,000 (95%) of children from three to six years old went to kindergartens. With the age boundary pushed further downward, preschool education now starts from a baby’s birth.

All staff working in kindergartens, including the principals, teachers, health teachers, nutrition advisers, nursery governesses, and accountants, are expected to hold a qualification certificate. About 98.7% of kindergarten teachers possess the required paper qualification, with 83.50% of them and 88.0% of kindergarten principals holding university degrees or certificates from senior vocational colleges.

Shanghai has secured various resources to fund kindergartens. Among the 1,193 urban kindergartens, 42.75% were established by the private sector. As the internationalization process quickens in Shanghai, more and more international kindergartens have been established, bringing in more advanced concepts and experience of preschool education.

Since the founding of this nation, preschool education had been under government control. In 1999, a new system was created by SMG in which nurseries and kindergartens were incorporated under one management network of preschool education for all children below the age of six. Children with congenital defects enjoy the same educational right as the rest. Preschool education, family education, and community education are organically combined.

With governmental support, more quality resources are made available to preschool education. There has thus been great improvement in the facilities of kindergartens, enabling the large enrolment of children at the right age. At the same time, social groups are encouraged to build and run kindergartens. Kindergartens built this way accounted for 42.75% of all kindergartens in 2005.

In the late 1990s, Shanghai initiated, a “children-oriented” reform of preschool education that highlighted the distinctive characteristics of preschool-age children and their individual differences. In compliance with the requirement of training future social talents, children were taught to be healthy, lively, inquisitive, easygoing, courageous, confident, and responsible. Children’s interests and needs were taken into full account in content designing and teaching. Children’s accumulation of physical experiences was emphasized, with activities and games as the most basic form of teaching. Teachers in kindergartens were also required to conduct educational research so as to improve their professional competence.

In 1999, the preschool education online was officially launched. The website provided a multi-functional platform of communication between more than 1,000 kindergartens in 19 districts and counties of Shanghai. It has streamlined management procedures and enhanced operational efficiency, greatly boosting the city’s preschool education.

28. Special Education

Special education constitutes an important aspect of education for Chinese nationals. It provides educational services for children with disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, intellectual impairment, cerebral palsy, and autism.

During the Tenth Five-Year Plan, special education in Shanghai experienced a boom in a bid to provide disabled children with multiple forms of quality education and ensure that special education keeps pace with regular education. The existing special education schools and special education classes in regular schools are the pillar in the system, supplemented by home tuition and community education. The system ranges from preschool to higher education, fusing special and regular education together. Now there are altogether 29 special education schools in Shanghai, including one for the blind, four for the deaf, 19 for the intellectually disabled, five vocational ones, one kindergarten, 28 preschool educational facilities, and three higher educational facilities. There are 10,933 students enjoying either the nine-year compulsory education or senior high school education. Among these students, 4,909 study in special education schools, while 5,575 study with regular students in normal schools. There are 449 in special education classes of regular schools, with 248 of them having visual impairment. There are 1,037 with hearing impairment and 9,648 intellectually challenged. About 90 deaf or blind students study full-time in institutions of higher education, and 500 children in preschool classes and kindergartens.

Shanghai adopts special policies on the allocation of funds for special education. The expenditure on each student in the special education system is thrice that of a student in the regular educational system. Besides this, the MEC sets aside special funds for the installation and renewal of rehabilitation and teaching facilities in special education schools, and for the maintenance and reconstruction of school buildings. Now every school of special education is equipped with modern IT-aided educational facilities for visual, audio, speech, sense, and cognitive training.

Students in special education schools are exempt from tuition, incidental expenses, textbook costs, co-curricular activity fees, and so on, during their nine-year compulsory education. Financially challenged students enjoy subsidies and other forms of financial support from the government.

Shanghai has been trying to provide more years of education to disabled students. Aside from a quality nine-year compulsory education, Shanghai also intends to offer them preschool and higher education. Senior high school and higher education are made available for disabled students who have finished the nine-year compulsory education. Senior high schools have worked hard to train these students both academically and vocationally so that they will be able to further their studies or obtain employment after graduation. One regular institution of higher education in Shanghai has special classes for students with hearing or speech impairment, while two other institutions allow students with visual impairment opportunities to study together with regular students. In 2005, the enrolment rate of senior high schools for the hearing impaired reached 93.3%, while the figure for institutions of higher education was 32%. In the same year, the enrolment rate of senior high schools for the blind was 80%, while the rate for the institutions of higher education hit 100%.

Recruiting committed teachers and improving their professional qualifications, have always been placed high on the agenda of SMG. All teachers in the special education system are required to obtain two qualifications: the Teaching Qualification Certificate and the Special Education Qualification Certificate. These teachers receive several phases of training, including pre-employment and on-the-job training, academic and non-academic training, which constitute a continuous support system for their professional development.

The Preschool and Special Education Institute of East China Normal University offers undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD programs on special education. The Shanghai Training Center for Teachers of Special Education organizes on-the-job training programs in light of the actual problems facing special education schools. The paper qualification of teachers of special education has tremendously improved in Shanghai and 80% of them hold at least college diplomas.

Teachers of special education are committed to adapting their teaching approaches to students with different kinds and degrees of disabilities. To promote the healthy growth of such students, arrangements like special education schools and classes, and learning in regular class are made to provide suitable education to them. Moreover, treatment-oriented research is also conducted for students with cerebral palsy, autism, deafness, and blindness.

Learning in regular classes can create an obstacle-free and colorful learning environment for students with slight disabilities. To this end, the regular schools and kindergartens with disabled students in classes need to make full use of their resources to work out the appropriate teaching methods and strategies. This is also true of kindergartens having younger children with disabilities.

29. Education for Ethnic Minorities

Education for ethnic minorities at primary and secondary levels in Shanghai complies with its socio-economic development, as well as the national plan of developing western China, especially Tibet and Xinjiang.

A primary system of education for ethnic minorities has been formed in Shanghai. First, in Shanghai children of ethnic minorities are provided with quality education and educational resources. The population in Shanghai is mainly composed of Han ethnicity, with over 50 ethnic minorities living scattered in Shanghai, including Huis, Manchus, and Mongols. The total population of the minority groups is around 104,000. In places with relatively more minority people, special educational institutions are established for them. There are six kindergartens and nursery classes, six primary and secondary schools, and one secondary technical school for ethnic minorities. Educational development and reform in Shanghai have improved the conditions for schools for ethnic minorities. The enrolment rate of ethnic minority students for the nine-year compulsory education has reached 100%, and the enrolment rate of senior high schools stands above the municipal average.

Second, in response to the strategy set by the central government to cultivate talents for ethnic minorities, Tibetan classes were established in Shanghai Huimin Secondary School. With the expansion of Tibetan classes, the municipal government allocated over RMB 50 million in 1998 for the establishment of the Gongkang Secondary School for both Tibetans and Hans. Since 2000, many senior high schools in Shanghai, including Qibao Secondary School and Senior High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University, have started classes for Xinjiang students. In 2006, these schools had an enrolment of 560 Xinjiang students in 14 classes. Shanghai Administration School also has 70 Tibetan students in two classes enrolled each year for junior high school education. In 2007, about 3,000 Tibetan and Xinjiang students will be studying in Shanghai.

Shanghai can provide high-quality education for its large number of Tibetan and Xinjiang students. Ninety-five percent of Xinjiang graduates from senior high schools further their studies in institutions of higher education. Over the past two decades, Shanghai has produced more than 2,400 excellent graduates from junior high schools and has dispatched over 700 outstanding graduates from secondary vocational schools to Tibet. These students have made active contributions toward local development and national solidarity.

Third, to improve the education in ethnic minority schools and classes, Shanghai sets aside each year special funds for purchasing and upgrading schools facilities. In 2002, the SMG appropriated nearly RMB 100 million to upgrade the school buildings and other facilities of Huimin Secondary School, Gongkang Secondary School, and others. All these efforts have helped create a pleasant living and learning environment for the minority students.

Collaboration between Shanghai and other provinces has been expanding substantially over recent years. In particular, great progress has been made in its collaboration and exchange programs with such western provinces and regions as Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province, and Wanzhou area in Chongqing, Xigaze in Tibet, and Aksu in Xinjiang.

These educational aid programs were implemented at three different levels: municipal, district, and school. By 1997, 19 districts of Shanghai had established relationships with 31 poverty-stricken counties of ethnic minorities in eight regions of Yunnan Province. Shanghai helped build schools, reconstruct schoolhouses, install educational equipment, and organize training sessions for key teachers so as to quicken the popularization of the nine-year compulsory education there.

By the end of 2000, 15 secondary vocational schools in Shanghai had established collaboration with nine secondary technical schools in Yunnan to construct ad-hoc specializations in the latter, enhance the quality of their key teaching staff, and improve their school management. At the same time, 100 primary and secondary schools in Shanghai were paired up with schools in 31 poor counties in Yunnan to train the teachers there and encourage Shanghai students to help those financially challenged fellow students in Yunnan.

Shanghai has also sent teaching staff to the poor regions of Yunnan on a two-year term. These teachers have contributed to the local educational development with their advanced educational concepts and teaching methods.

Distance education has been adopted since 2000 by the MEC of Shanghai to conduct training programs for the key teaching and administrative staff in primary schools in Yunnan Province. So far, more than 40,000 teachers of primary and secondary schools in Yunnan have benefited from the various online training programs.

At the same time, educational aid has also been extended to Wanzhou District in Chongqing, which was designated to resettle the migrants from the Three Gorges Area. In 1997, RMB 3 million was transferred to the No. 5 Secondary School there for the construction of a comprehensive classroom building after its relocation. In 2001, the MEC helped two more secondary schools in that area to obtain IT classrooms, language laboratories, and computer rooms. From 2000 to 2001, Shanghai also accepted 795 children of migrants from the Three Gorges District.

Since 1993, Shanghai has hosted over 100 students every year from Tibet. By the end of 2003, the MEC of Shanghai had opened 20 classes for 720 Tibetan students in Gongkang Secondary School. Another two junior high school classes operated by Shanghai Administration School accommodated 70 Tibetan students. There are now over 410 students from Xinjiang in ten classes at Shanghai Qibao Secondary School.

From 1996 to 2003, the MEC of Shanghai allocated altogether RMB 67,898,400 for the improvement of schools where these Tibetan classes were located. In 2003, the commission invested RMB 8 million in the construction of 3,528 square meters of classroom buildings in secondary vocational schools in Xigaze. It also donated RMB 6 million to the Xigaze educational administration for improving the conditions of various schools.

From 1998, the MEC of Shanghai sponsored 30 teachers and administrative staff from Aksu of Xinjiang for training programs in Shanghai. Five batches of 180 teachers and administrative staff have so far completed their training. Since 1994, the educational system in Shanghai has trained 2,252 teachers and 1,391 administrative staff from Ningxia Autonomous Region, Xigaze in Tibet, Aksu in Xinjiang, and other areas. Shanghai has also dispatched its educational experts and scholars to these areas to conduct on-site training for 206,582 local teachers and administrative staff.

In 2003, the MEC of Shanghai signed agreements with the provincial education commissions of Zhejiang and Jiangsu on the Shanghai-Zhejiang and Shanghai-Jiangsu Educational Collaboration Programs respectively. These programs involve cooperation among the three regions in terms of research and education, curriculum reform in primary and secondary schools, reform of entrance examination systems, and on-the-job training. In addition, collegiate collaboration between Shanghai and these provinces requires the common use of youth centers of quality education, and joint construction and utilization of practice and training bases for vocational education. The three regions have also pledged to share information and improve the employment situation for university and college graduates.