Ladies and Gentlemen!
Education is the most fundamental of all undertakings for a nation’s rejuvenation and development. Just as a Chinese wise man of yore put it, “Respecting education and persuading people to learn are fundamental to the building of a nation; promoting virtue and nurturing talent are foremost tasks of government.” China’s fast growth over the last 30 or so years would not have happened without the support of education. China’s future hinges on talents, and the basis of its development rests with education. That is why we have adopted a strategy to rejuvenate the nation through science and education, and always put a premium on education development. We are in the possession of the world’s largest education system with 260 million students; free nine-year compulsory education has become the norm across the land; the gross attendance rate of higher education has risen from 1% three decades ago to 24% today; fiscal funding for education has registered an average annual growth rate of 19% over the last decade. It is worth noting that last year, despite a slowdown in the fiscal revenue’s growth rate in the aftermath of the international monetary crisis, our government increased its education funding by 25%, including 80 billion yuan that was spent to raise the salaries of 10 million primary and middle school teachers.
In the meantime, the nation has worked out the Outline of National Medium and Long-Term Plan for Education Reform and Development. Among other things, this blueprint for education development in the 2010-2020 period calls for universalizing education from preschool to senior middle school, delivering education equally to every one, offering quality education in richer and more varied ways, furnishing an integral framework for lifelong education, better adapt education to the requirements of socioeconomic development and of comprehensive human development, and letting our people live in more bliss and with dignity.
The supreme hall of education, the university is a platform for grooming innovative talents, a cradle for new knowledge, new ideas and new science and technology, and a spiritual home for the survival and development of humanity. In the face of the new tendency in global socioeconomic development, of the new tasks for the Chinese modernization drive, and of the new trend in which diverse civilizations seek to live in harmony, our universities haven taken it upon themselves an unprecedented mission that is at once noble and historical. In the next ten years we shall strive to develop world-caliber modern higher education in a distinctly Chinese way; we shall promote innovation in our school-running concept, mode of education and institutional mechanisms; optimize the structure and increase investment to build vast contingents of top-notch teachers; and we shall enable our universities’ three major functions -- talent cultivation, scientific research and service -- to promote and supplement each other, and boost education quality in an all-round way.
Firstly, we shall give further precedence to universities’ education function, and pool competent talents to cultivate new national strengths by way of opening up and cooperation.
As the most critical challenge confronting universities in the contemporary world, raising education quality is not only the mainstream in higher education development across the world in the 21st-century, but also the central task for China’s higher education development.
We shall spare no effort to overhaul the traditional mode and system of evaluation by attaching more importance, firstly, to innovation, which means to enhance our students’ innovative spirit, practical ability and sense of social responsibility; secondly, to comprehensiveness, which means to promote all-round student development and enable them to better adapt themselves to future social changes; thirdly, to magnanimity, which means to foster, in our students, a global vision and high-minded respect for diverse cultures; fourthly, to selectivity, which means to provide our students with more flexible and diverse learning opportunities.
We shall accumulate quality education resources through opening up and cooperation to vastly improve the quality in university education. We shall put forward a completely new curriculum that combines special and general learning and encompasses subjects in both liberal arts and sciences, so as to make a more comprehensive knowledge structure available to our students.
We shall create new mechanisms by which universities can teach in collaboration with research institutes, industries and enterprises, and by which students can improve their fieldwork capabilities by taking part in research and construction projects.
We shall also explore new patterns of cooperation between Chinese and foreign universities in grooming talents, recruit outstanding teachers from abroad, expand exchanges of students with other nations, and encourage our universities and their foreign counterparts to supplement and benefit each other in teaching and learning.