Wang Zhan

Wang Zhan, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education of China, gave
the opening address at the Beijing Conference and congratulated
ASBPAE and the DVV on their 25 years of cooperation. In his address
he stresses the role of adult education and Lifelong Learning in
a constantly changing world, and also points to the importance and
necessity of international cooperation.

Opening Remarks at the Seminar on International Cooperation for Adult Education

It gives me great pleasure to join you at the Seminar on International Cooperation for Adult Education, which also celebrates the 25 years of cooperation between ASPBAE and DVV. I, on behalf of the Ministry of Education of China, wish to extend our warm welcome to all guests from Asia and South Pacific, DVV, and UNESCO.

I still remember clearly and fully agree with the consensus reached at the 5th International Conference on Adult Education in Germany, 1997, that adult education plays an important and unique role in helping people adapt to the constantly changing world and in imposing a stronger sense of rights and responsibilities on adults and communities. Mankind is now in the 21st century, when drastic changes are taking place in all spheres of social life. These changes put ever growing expectations on education. In particular, the traditional concept of one-time education must be abandoned and the new notion of lifelong learning must be widely acknowledged. More learning opportunities must be created to help people, especially the vulnerable, to cope with socio-economic development. Moreover, the quality of adult education must be improved so that adult learners can learn what they want. Finally, adult education must be reformed so that more diversified learning opportunities will be available within an open and flexible framework .

The Chinese government has always paid great attention to adult education, whose development has been quite fast in our country in recent years, thanks to the concerted efforts of both the government and public alike. For example, a rural adult education network covering almost all villages, townships and counties has taken shape, which, from 1990 to 2002, pulled 50,630,000 young and middle-aged rural dwellers out of illiteracy. Correspondingly, the focus of rural adult education has shifted from literacy to practical skills training, active citizenship and social and cultural subjects. For corporate employees mainly in urban areas, on-the-job training and continuing education have been strengthened, helping businesses to sharpen their edges amid increasing market competition. Community education is also thriving, especially in medium-sized and big cities. According to conservative estimation, each year about 100,000,000 people attend a variety of training courses all over the country. Finally, adult learners can expect to receive school-leaving credentials at the middle-school or even higher education level, which are acknowledged by the state. Last year alone, 930,000 adult learners graduated from universities. All in all, adult education, as an important part of our lifelong education system in the new century, has contributed greatly to the improvement of the quality of the Chinese nation.
Currently, China’s socio-economic development has embarked on a new era. The recently concluded 16th national congress of the Communist Party of China proposed the goal of bringing better well-being to the people and identified a series of strategies for realizing that goal, including the one of lifelong learning for all. Adult educators really have an important job to do.

In the new era, China’s adult education must fulfill a lot of ambitions. For example, the number of rural adults taking training courses must be increased to 150,000,000 each year, a proportion of over 35%. Pre-job training must be provided to an annual 8,000,000 rural surplus laborers that will be transferred to non-agricultural employment. Incremental rural laborers will also receive pre-employment training. In urban areas, adult educators, working with and through the business community, should train 50,000,000 employees and involve 3,000,000 unemployed people in reemployment training programs. Last but not least, we shall give a boost to nationwide community training, making it a major vehicle for lifelong learning.

Enhancing China’s adult education, however, cannot do without international cooperation. Adult educators in China will promote such cooperation by actively taking part in international programs, exchanging information with their foreign counterparts, and supporting the building of a universal adult education network. The 25-year cooperation between ASPBAE and DVV serves as an inspiring example. Here, I congratulate them.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Chinese government will continue to support adult education development in China and the rest of the world. As host for today’s seminar, we wish it full success.
Adult Education and Development


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