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CHAPTER THREE

Literacy Education and Skills Training among Adults

Efforts should be made to reduce adult illiteracy rates (among an age group defined by each national authority), for example, reducing them to half the level of 1990 by the year 2000. Special attention should be given to literacy education among women so as to significantly reduce gender disparities in illiteracy rates.

Efforts should be made to expand the provision of basic education and other necessary skills training programs for youth and adults, and their effectiveness should be assessed in the light of their impact on changes in behaviors, and on health, employment and productivity.

--- Excerpts from the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs

3.1 Background, Measures and Practices

With the founding of the PRC, the Chinese Government adopted a policy of opening the door to workers and peasants in education and regarded literacy work among workers and peasants as an important function of the government, and accordingly the Government Administration Council (replaced by the State Council in 1954) set up a Committee for Workers' and Peasants' Education, which undertook to organize literacy education among urban workers and mass literacy campaigns during the slack winter seasons among peasants. By 1964 the illiteracy rate of the population was reduced to 54.8% from 80% at the time of the founding of the PRC. By 1982, the illiteracy rate of the entire population of China was reduced to 22.8%, and by 1990, this figure was reduced to 15.9%. China has the biggest population in the world, and in 1990 China's illiterate and semi-literate population was still as high as 180,000,000, accounting for nearly one fifth of the world's total illiterate population. Whether we can reduce the illiteracy rates as soon as possible and raise the educational attainment of the people is not only a grim challenge we have to face in order to facilitate economic and social development in the poor areas, to improve the socio-economic status of these illiterate people, and to enhance their participation in political life as citizens, but also an undertaking which affects to a large extent the timely and effective attainment of the goals set by WCEFA.

In order to further reduce the illiteracy rates and enhance the educational attainment of the nation, and in order to fulfil China’s commitment to WCEFA and concerned IGOs, the Chinese government has placed literacy work as one of the priorities in educational development, and accordingly has set forth targets to be attained by the end of the century. Following is an account of the more important and effective measures taken:

Box 3.1

Composition of the National Interdepartmental Coordinating

Committee for Literacy Work and the Responsibilities of the

Participating Units

In order to implement the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China and the gist of the National Conference on Education convened in 1994, the National Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee for Literacy Work has been set up with the approval of the State Council.

Composition:

Advisor: Chen Muhua, Vice-Chairman of the NPC, President of All China Women's Federation (ACWF).

Committee Chair: Zhu Kaixuan, Minister in charge of SEdC.

Committee Deputy Chair: Wang Mingda, Vice Minister, SEdC.

Zhang Lianzhen: Secretary of the Secretariat of ACWF.

Bayin Chaolu: Secretary of the Secretariat of the Communist Youth League of China.

Other members include responsible persons delegated by the following eight bodies: Department of Propaganda, CPC Central Committee; Ministries of Culture, Radio, Film and Television, Agriculture, and Forestry; State Nationalities Affairs Commission; Department of Mass Work of Chinese People's Liberation Army; and China Science and Technology Association (CSTA).

Office: set up at the Department of Adult Education, SEdC and staffed by functionaries sent by the 13 units.

Mission and Division of Responsibilities:

Mission: Providing macro-level guidance to and inspection of literacy work; mobilizing all quarters of society to take part in and give support to literacy work.

Division of Responsibilities:

Educational Department: Being responsible for the coordination of plans and measures for literacy work, for developing institutions for literacy and post-literacy education, for deploying literacy teachers, for inspection, check-up and assessment, and for commendations and rewards.

Agricultural and forestry departments and CSTA: Being responsible for mobilizing the grassroots cadres and professionals of these sectors, for mobilizing the local chapters of CSTA and various research associations to take part in literacy education activities and organize practical skills training programs.

Propaganda and radio, film and television departments: Being responsible for mobilizing the masses, for publicizing the significance of literacy work, and disseminating the results and experiences of literacy work.

Cultural department: Providing cultural facilities for literacy work, including reading materials and audiovisual materials used for disseminating the significance and achievements of literacy work.

State Nationalities Affairs Commission: Mobilizing and organizing the young and middle-aged adults of the minority areas to take part in literacy education.

People's Liberation Army: Helping the localities where the PLA units are stationed, especially the localities in the border areas, to promote literacy work.

CYL and ACWF: Mobilizing young people and women to take part in literacy classes; launching activities known as "dual studies and dual emulations" (study of three R's and study of techniques; emulation for achievement and emulation for contribution); taking part in the provision of literacy classes.

--Written on the basis of the Summary of the First Session of the National Coordinating Committee for Literacy Work held on December 19, 1994.

The state has taken a series of measures to guarantee the conditions for literacy work, and following is a brief account of these measures: Implementing bodies--the main sites used for conducting literacy education include the literacy classes affiliated to rural primary schools, as well as the evening schools of regular primary schools and literacy classes run by township cultural centers. The literacy teachers are mainly part-time ones, with a small number of full-time teachers mainly employed in the primary schools for peasants (numbering 45,000 in 1998). The part-time teachers consist mainly of the full-time teachers of rural primary schools and other staff members and higher-grade pupils. With regard to the financing of literacy work, the Regulations on Eradicating Illiteracy promulgated by the State Council lists the following five avenues: (1) funds raised by the governments of townships and towns, by urban neighborhoods, and by councils of villagers; (2) literacy work conducted in enterprises and institutions may be financed by budgetary allocations earmarked for the education of staff and workers; (3) part of the educational surcharges collected on certain taxes in rural areas; (4) the expenses on training teachers and full-time literacy workers, on compiling teaching materials, on research activities, on experiences exchange, and on commendation and rewards may be defrayed by funds of the educational budget; (5) donations made by various NGOs and individuals. In 1995 SEdC issued a circular (Jiaocai No. 93, 1995), which further clarifies that earmarked funds for rewarding outstanding units and individuals of literacy work may be defrayed with budgetary appropriations; in localities where projects of supporting compulsory education in poor areas are being carried out, funds for literacy work may be defrayed with local matching funds for the project. Literacy textbooks. In order to ensure that literacy work should meet local needs, with special emphasis placed on effective integration with the needs of economic development of the rural areas, with the needs of alleviating poverty and helping local people to get prosperous, the state's educational department has explicitly clarified that textbooks used for literacy work should be compiled by local authorities with reference to the state’s requirements in the light of local conditions. According to the data provided by 10 provinces, among the teaching materials used by these provinces, over 50% were compiled by local authorities, with the exception of Jilin and Anhui. See Table 3.1 for details.

Table 3.1 Literacy Teaching Materials Used in Ten Provinces by Source of Materials(in %)

 

Teaching materials compiled at the prov. level

Teaching materials compiled at the prefectural and municipal level

Teaching materials compiled at the county level

Self-compiled local materials

Teaching materials introduced from elsewhere

Jiangsu

86.9

 

 

5.8

5.2

2.0

0.0

Fujian

77.6

9.0

9.9

3.1

0.4

Sichuan

74.2

17.3

4.1

1.4

3.0

Anhui

37.5

36.9

19.2

6.5

0.0

Henan

65.4

17.0

12.5

4.7

0.4

Shanxi

54.0

7.0

18.3

20.3

0.3

Gansu

78.9

6.3

4.0

8.5

2.2

Guizhou

81.0

10.0

4.7

3.1

1.2

Jilin

82.9

13.1

26.0

19.3

18.7

Heilongjiang

62.8

13

13.8

5.3

5.3

3.2 Significant Achievement of Literacy Education in the 1990s

In 1990 the fourth national population census was conducted in China, in addition to a 10% sample survey. The census moment was set at zero hours, 1 July 1990. In 1997 the State Statistics Bureau organized a 1.016% sample survey of the population, and the census moment was set at zero hours, July 1997. Tables 3.1 and 3.2 provide the data obtained from these census and sample surveys on population figures, illiterate and semi-literate population. (The data in the tables are inferred from the data of the sample surveys released by the China Statistics Yearbook and China Population Statistics Yearbook) The remaining sections of this chapter will mainly use these data to make an analysis of the progress of literacy work in the 1990s in China. While fully confirming the significant achievements made, we will try to reveal the weak links in literacy work.

Table 3.2 Distribution of Illiterate and Semiliterate Populations by Province

(Based on the statistical returns of the 1.0% sample survey conducted during the 4th population census,

conducted on July 1, 1990)

 

Population 15 years old and over (in 10,000)

illiterate or semi-literate population

(in 10,000)

Illiteracy rates

(%)

MF

M

F

MF

M

F

MF

M

F

National Total

81385.8

41920.9

39914.8

18224.6

5452.2

12772.4

22.27

18.01

32.00

Beijing

864.2

445.9

418.3

95.3

24.6

70.7

11.03

5.52

16.90

Tianjin

681.6

343.7

337.9

79.9

18.4

61.5

11.72

5.36

18.20

Hebei

4274.5

2164.2

2110.3

936.8

282.1

654.7

21.91

13.03

31.02

Shanxi

2021.0

1044.4

976.6

333.2

111.0

222.2

16.49

10.63

22.75

Neimeng

1511.9

791.6

720.3

330.8

115.4

215.4

21.88

14.58

29.90

Liaoning

3067.7

1561.4

1506.3

354.5

102.6

251.9

11.56

6.57

16.72

Jilin

1854.3

944.4

909.8

265.1

89.1

175.9

14.30

9.44

19.34

Heilonhjiang

2551.8

1304.5

1247.3

384.1

123.9

260.3

15.05

9.50

20.87

Shanghai

1104.6

566.3

538.3

148.1

33.5

114.6

13.41

5.91

2129

Jiangsu

5201.2

2627.1

2574.0

1175.1

312.1

86.3

22.59

11.88

33.53

Zhejiang

3132.8

1606.9

1526.0

726.4

215.3

511.1

23.19

13.40

33.49

Anhui

4029.9

2067.0

1962.9

1686.1

438.0

948.1

34.39

21.19

48.30

Fujian

2103.3

1079.3

1024.1

480.7

111.1

369.6

22.85

10.29

36.09

Jiangxi

2612.8

1346.9

1265.9

623.0

165.3

457.7

23.85

12.28

36.15

Shandong

6125.0

3083.5

3041.5

1413.7

412.6

1001.1

23.08

13.38

32.92

Henan

6092.0

3089.9

3002.2

1394.9

433.1

961.8

22.90

14.02

32.04

Hubei

3920.6

2015.6

1904.9

868.4

250.5

617.9

22.15

12.43

32.43

Hunan

4360.7

2262.2

2098.5

746.2

209.4

536.9

17.11

9.25

25.58

Guangdong

4426.6

2249.2

2177.5

672.8

132.4

540.5

15.20

5.89

24.82

Guangxi

2840.9

1483.1

1357.9

468.0

112.9

355.2

16.47

7.61

26.16

Hainan

426.7

219.8

206.9

91.0

21.9

69.1

21.34

9.98

33.40

Sichuan

8172.8

4226.1

3946.8

1745.0

551.4

1194.2

21.36

13.05

30.26

Guizhou

2208.5

1145.8

1062.7

804.3

245.9

558.4

36.42

21.46

52.54

Yunnan

2507.6

1285.8

1221.8

941.5

315.8

625.7

37.54

24.56

51.21

Tibet

144.1

71.8

72.3

97.4

38.8

58.6

67.58

54.06

81.00

Shannxi

2306.9

1194.1

1112.8

584.2

198.3

385.9

25.32

16.61

34.67

Gansu

1644.4

847.1

797.3

654.5

226.5

427.9

39.80

26.74

53.67

Qinghai

304.8

159.8

145.0

123.6

43.4

80.2

40.55

27.15

55.32

Ningxia

309.8

158.8

151.0

99.7

33.6

66.2

32.19

21.13

43.82

Xingjiang

1032.3

534.7

497.7

199.6

83.3

116.4

19.34

15.58

23.38

Data Source: China Statistics Yearbook,1991P85.

Table 3.3 Distribution of Illiterate and Semiliterate Populations by Province

(Based on the statistical returns of the 1.016‰ sample survey conducted, conducted on July 1, 1997)

 

Population 15 years old and over (in 10,000)

illiterate or semi-literate population

(in 10,000)

Illiteracy rates

(%)

MF

M

F

MF

M

F

MF

M

F

National Total

94731.3

47641.3

47090.1

15294.5

4371.4

10923.1

16.36

9.58

23.24

Beijing

1090.2

542.9

547.3

83.3

18.4

64.9

7.64

3.38

11.86

Tianjin

786.8

387.9

398.9

77.4

18.2

59.2

9.84

4.68

14.85

Hebei

5015.5

2520.3

2495.2

717.4

209.9

507.5

14.30

8.33

20.34

Shanxi

2360.4

1199.4

1161.0

233.0

74.6

158.5

9.87

6.21

13.65

Neimeng

1806.2

927.5

878.7

303.0

97.6

205.4

16.78

10.53

23.37

Liaoning

3459.9

1733.3

1726.6

284.1

74.6

209.5

8.21

4.30

12.13

Jilin

2146.1

1077.5

1068.5

174.4

52.7

121.7

8.13

4.89

11.40

Heilonhjiang

3024.3

1532.2

1492.0

277.5

83.8

193.6

9.18

5.47

12.98

Shanghai

1279.0

627.5

651.6

130.1

293.5

822.1

10.17

4.22

15.91

Jiangsu

5788.1

2832.7

2955.3

1115.7

293.5

822.1

19.28

10.36

27.82

Zhejiang

3692.9

1848.1

1944.8

678.6

200.3

478.3

18.38

10.83

25.93

Anhui

4736.9

2402.3

233406

955.4

284.9

670.6

20.17

11.83

28.72

Fujian

2427.2

1210.6

1216.7

423.5

102.5

321.0

17.45

8.47

26.38

Jiangxi

3125.6

1581.4

1544.2

389.7

91.3

298.4

12.47

5.78

19.32

Shandong

6952.5

3444.5

3507.9

1574.3

453.4

1120.9

22.64

13.16

31.95

Henan

3991.9

3515.1

3476.8

1040.6

295.1

745.4

14.88

8.40

21.44

Hubei

4408.0

2236.2

2171.7

663.4

185.3

478.1

15.05

8.29

22.02

Hunan

5030.5

2553.6

2476.8

566.9

146.9

420.0

11.27

5.75

16.96

Guangdong

5188.8

2581.2

2607.5

498.7

86.3

412.4

9.61

3.34

15.81

Guangxi

3420.0

1748.0

1672.0

516.9

129.9

387.0

15.12

7.44

23.15

Hainan

528.1

270.0

258.2

74.6

19.1

55.5

14.11

7.06

21.49

Chongqing

2404.8

1212.8

1192.0

404.5

119.2

285.3

16.82

9.83

23.93

Sichuan

6673.0

3352.3

3320.7

1200.9

363.3

837.6

18.00

10.84

25.22

Guizhou

2632.4

1373.3

1259.0

681.2

193.1

488.1

25.88

14.07

38.77

Yunnan

3073.5

1546.7

1526.7

775.0

254.5

520.6

25.22

16.45

34.10

Tibet

168.0

78.8

89.2

90.8

34.8

56.0

65.08

44.21

62.80

Shannxi

2666.9

1354.8

1312.1

462.5

153.9

3.8.6

17.34

11.36

23.52

Gansu

1866.9

942.3

924.6

499.8

160.0

339.8

25.77

16.98

36.75

Qinghai

364.7

183.4

181.4

159.1

57.8

101.2

43.62

31.54

55.83

Ningxia

385.5

195.3

190.1

99.6

57.8

101.2

25.83

16.45

35.45

Xingjiang

1236.8

628.9

607.9

142.5

57.6

84.9

11.52

9.16

13.97



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