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Vocational education park blooming in rural China

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Three decades ago, Chinese cities began turning rural land into industrial parks to attract foreign investors. Today, a new kind of project is blooming in China's countryside: the vocational education park.

30年前,中国城市开始把农田建成工业园来吸引外国投资者。如今,在中国农村又涌现一种新项目:职业教育园。

 

Cities around China are carving out tracts of land for school parks – dubbed "education factories" – designed to train hundreds of thousands of students.

全中国的城市正在在大片田地上建学校——被称为"教育工厂"——这些学校的目的是为了培养成千上万的学生。

 

Fuelling their drive are generous government subsidies and targets to increase the number of skilled workers, part of Beijing's push to redirect China's economy away from its investment-led past toward a more innovative, high-tech future.

推动这股建校潮流的是政府的大量补贴以及政府要达到有更多技术熟练工人的目标。中国政府要调整经济,使其从过去投资推动经济的模式进入更加创新的高科技发展模式。

 

But the expansion comes even as many existing vocational schools are struggling to live up to their promise.

但是正在学校扩建之时,很多现有的职业院校都艰难为生。

 

"You can build as much as you want, but unless you get good teachers, good curriculum and a system that assesses and rewards high performing schools with more resources, it's just going to be a waste of money," says Scott Rozelle, co-director of the Rural Education Action Program at Stanford University and the author of many papers on vocational education in China.

斯坦福大学农村教育行动项目的主管之一斯科特·罗泽尔曾经写过很多关于中国职业教育的论文,他说:"你想建多少学校都可以,但是除非你有好的老师、好的课程和能评估与奖励表现好的学校的一个体系,才不是在浪费钱。"

 

There is no question China needs to raise skill levels.

毫无疑问,中国确实需要提高工人的技术水平。

 

Wayne Zhang, who runs a home decor products factory in northeastern China, says that finding skilled workers – in order to increase capacity or make more complex products – is increasingly hard. Of the 100 such staff he set out to hire last year, he has only been able to find 60.

在中国东北,韦恩·张有一个家装产品工厂,他说,为了扩大产能或者生产更复杂的产品,雇用有技术的工人越来越难。去年他打算雇100个这样的员工,但是最后仅仅找到60个。

 

As of 2010, just 24 percent of China's workforce had attended at least some upper secondary school, compared with an OECD average of 74 percent, according to a study published by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University in February.

今年2月,斯坦福大学弗里曼-斯波格利国际问题研究所发布的一份报告显示,自2010年以来,中国的劳动力大军中仅有24%的人是高中或高中毕业以上学历,而经济合作与发展组织成员的平均值为74%。

 

As the labor force shrinks and ages, China also needs to coax more productivity out of each worker. Worker training could help avoid the so-called "middle-income trap" and, in theory, narrow a widening income gap that threatens social stability.

随着中国劳动力人数的减少和进入老龄,中国还需要提高每一个工人的生产率。对工人进行培训还有助于避免陷入"中等收入陷阱",从理论上来讲,还能缩小收入差距,收入差距的问题会影响到社会稳定。

 

Lanzhou, capital of central Gansu province, reportedly expects to attract more than 30 schools and 150,000 students to its vocational school park opening in 2017. Ganzhou, in southern Jiangxi province, has been reported to be building a vocational school district which hopes to have at least 10 vocational schools and more than 100,000 students when it opens in 2018. Yunnan, Shandong and Hunan provinces all have vocational school parks.

据悉,预计到2017年,中国甘肃省省会兰州的学校园区将吸引30多所学校和15万学生。中国南部江西省的赣州也要修建技校园区,预计2018年投入使用,希望能至少有10家技术学校在此落户,吸引超过10万学生。中国的云南省、山东省和湖南省都有类似的技校园。

 

And yet, many Chinese vocational schools already struggle to attract students. Vocational schools, almost all state-run, are usually high schools, although China is pushing to create more vocational universities. But vocational education lacks the prestige of conventional high school. Many teachers have never worked in the industries they are preparing students to join.

但是,现存的很多中国技校都很难招生,虽然中国正在大力推动建设技校大学。这些技校几乎都是国家办的,级别相当于高中。但技校的教育远不如高中。很多老师从来没有在他们想让学生从业的相关行业工作过。

 

One study of computing schools found that only 10 percent of teachers had actually worked in the sector. And too often, their critics say, the courses and teaching methods vocational schools offer are out of step with the demands of the economy.

一个电脑技校的调查发现,仅有10%的老师在电脑行业工作过。而且,太多的批评之声集中在技校的课程与教育方法常常与工作的实际需求脱节。

 

In a rural area of Guiyang, the capital city of southwestern Guizhou province, tree-covered hills are being razed to make room for the Qingzhen Vocational Education City. Seventeen schools have already agreed to be part of the zone, including agricultural engineering, transportation, construction and automotive schools. The zone has capacity for 35 schools and 300,000 students.

在中国西南的贵州省省会贵阳,为了给清镇技术学习城(音)腾地方,山上郁郁葱葱的树木被伐掉。现已经有17家学校同意在此落户,包括农业工程、交通、建筑、自动化学校。该地区能容纳35所学校和30万学生。

 

At the Guizhou Machinery Industry School, where enrolment is expected to increase from about 7,000 students this year to 10,000 next year, vice president Xu Guoqing says that grouping schools together in a new district will help dispel parents' concerns about the quality of vocational education and lessen overlap in course offerings.

贵州机械工业学院的副校长徐国琴(音)说,该校明年的生源人数将从今年的7000人增长到1万人,把学校聚在一个新的区域将会减轻家长对于职业教育的担忧和减少课程的重复。

 

State subsidies sweeten the deal. All of the students at Guizhou Machinery are on full scholarships funded by the provincial government. Because they come from poor areas, more than 80 percent of students receive a 2,000 yuan ($315) annual living expenses stipend from the central government.

这种做法得到了国家的补贴。在贵州机械工业学院学习的学生都拿到了省政府给的奖学金。因为他们来自贫困地区,超过80%的学生还有中央政府给的每年2000元的生活补助。

 

Students said they appreciated the schools' focus on practical skills, rather than the theory taught in conventional high school or university.

学生说,他们学校能把重点放在教授实际技能上、而不是像普通高中或大学讲授理论知识,他们对此很满意。

 

"Going to class feels like going to work in a factory," said Wu Wei, a student at the construction school.

一位叫吴伟(音)的学生说:"上课简直就像去工厂工作。"

 

Indeed, one of the criticisms of China's vocational schools is that rather than educating their students, some have simply shipped them off to work at factories as interns under conditions that violate Chinese labor law.

的确,对中国技校的一大批评就是一些技校并没有教学生技能、而是简单把他们送到工厂当实习生,而这不符合中国的劳动法。

 

Guizhou Machinery Industry School's Xu says that what matters in vocational education is not how big a school is, but how it is run. The stakes are rising for China's vocational schools. Says Xu: "If we run things the old way, we'll be left behind."

贵州机械工业学校的徐国琴说,职业教育的问题不是一个学校规模多大,而是如何管理运作。中国技校面临的风险越来越高。徐国琴说:"如果我们还按老的方式来运作,我们就落后了。"

2016-06-23

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