The great industrial superpower of modern times, China is also attempting to reform and modernize its education system. China's leaders aspire to the creation of a knowledge-based economy capable of sustained economic growth; without the adequate provision of more advanced education, that goal will remain elusive. Since 1996, the People's Republic has invested heavily in state education, in order to close the 'learning gap' between China and the West. Here, Kerstin Lehr presents an in-depth study of the effects of this state-led education policy, marrying national and local data with the results of interviews and surveys conducted during extensive fieldwork. She also offers a new conceptualization of educational 'success', adopting a much wider framework than the constricted, largely economics-led methodologies that dominate the existing literature on China and other countries. Providing an analysis of the huge inequalities growing in the country between rural and urban populations, and the effects of education on development and political freedom, The Politics of Education in Contemporary China is an important work for those seeking to understand contemporary Chinese development.
Table of contents:
1. Introduction, 1.1 Methodology: Sources and Approach to Fieldwork, 1.2 Structure of the Book, 2. Educational Success - Conventional Wisdom and an Alternative Definition, 2.1 Measuring 'Success': the Intrinsic Approach, 2.2 Measuring 'Success': the Instrumental Approach, 2.3 Beyond Narrow Instrumentalism: an Alternative Approach to 'Success', 2.4 Educational Poverty and Inequality, 2.5 Conclusion, 3. A New Socialist Era: Educational Success in China since 1996? 3.1 Educational Policy Post-Deng, 3.2 More Schools + Higher Enrolment = Educational Quality? 3.3 GDP Growth and Rates of Return: the Impact of Educational Improvement on Health and Political Freedom, 3.4 Dimensions of Educational Inequality, 3.5 Conclusion, 4. Why Zibo? 4.1 Zibo and the Shandong Macro-Region, 4.2 Zibo's Economic and Social Development in Perspective, 4.3 Why not Study Zouping? 4.4 Educational Continuity and Change in Zibo, 1979-1996, 4.5 Conclusion, 5. Educational Trends in Zibo, 1996-2009, 5.1 Educational Policy and Financing Since 1996, 5.2 Quantitative and Qualitative: School Numbers and Enrolment, Literacy and Suzhi Jiaoyu, 5.3 The Broader Significance of Education: GDP Growth, Quality of Life, 5.4 Conclusion, 6. Spatial Inequalities and the Myth of the Urban-Rural Divide, 6.1 Where is the 'Countryside'? 6.2 The Unfolding Mosaic of Spatial Inequality, 1996-2007, 6.3 Qualitative Spatial Differentials: Official Statistics v. Reality, 6.4 Conclusion, 7. 'Quality' Education in Zibo - or Whom? 7.1 The Extent of Intra-Local Inequalities, 7.2 The Gender Dimension, 7.3 The Class Dimension, 7.4 Conclusion, 8. Conclusion: Some Ways Travelled, Further Yet to Go
Kerstin Lehr is currently Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She gained her PhD from the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield, UK.