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Private Education in China

     Greg Guanxi's reply to Siegfried Ramler' report in long and vehement, but since he taught in China he is unusually qualified to comment. He says:
     "Siegfried Ramler's report on a conference in China on private education shockingly reminds me of Communist indoctrination to which I was exposed while a teacher there. I'm concerned his rosy perceptions of China have been shaped by what his hosts wanted him to perceive, and not the real mess that is China.
     How and when did China "overcome" the Cultural Revolution? Mr. Ramler's acceptance of the Chinese line that the "Gang of Four" were responsible for the atrocities during that period points to his digestion of their vitriol. I remember seeing defaced statues, plastic reproductions of irreplaceable cultural relics, and a population in denial. I'm adamant American tourists, foreign experts, and visitors to China attain a more realistic perspective than the government approved text.
     Chinese conferences are always "showcases" of China's outstanding progress to become the next super-power. They have STATISTICS prove this! My personal experiences at conferences in China can best be described as frustrating impingements on my personal liberty. "China has 5,000 years of civilization." "Thanks to Deng's five modernizations, China is rising to take-over America." These and other "approved" slogans were so often regurgitated by my students and other comrades that they became utterly laughable as I came to see China first-hand.
     "Private" universities, like all Chinese institutions and enterprises, are directly controlled and manipulated by the over-bearing, repressive government. Beijing Normal University (where I lived) is a "key national university" but it's not clear Mr. Ramler understands what that means. In my experience, there is very little difference in either the quality of the education or the curriculum in a private or public university. Administered by Communist Party members, all Chinese universities are breeding grounds for future soldiers (compulsory military training and education), Communist inculcation of foolish doctrines, and development of obedient Socialists.
     Students rarely, if ever, have electives in a four-year course of study. Lacking an atmosphere of intellectual inquiry, the university campus in China allows students to practice rote-memory skills, including recitation. Individual thought and reflection is not conducive to maintaining a regime. Like the People's Army, Chinese universities have entered into nebulous businesses and arrangements to support their cadres (and pitiful teacher salaries). Northeastern University in Shenyang is a majority shareholder of several software companies traded in Shanghai. These companies have catapulted a select few to wealth (notice handful of Volvos on campus), but my students never complained that the concrete classrooms, dormitories, and bathrooms have little or no heat during the -40 degree winters. Nor do they link this bitter reality to Mao's Little Red Book.
     Staking their future on nefarious business dealings in an environment perceived and known to be the most corrupt in the world, universities in China are sure to go the way of Rust Belt factories. "China ascending" remains a pipe dream.

     My comment: WAIS has gone through this before. Some years ago Dick Gross of the Stanford School of Education visited China and wrote a report on Chinese schools. It received an angry rebuttal from a Chinese. Travel literature is of enormous importance, but travelers brings back conflicting reports. Note the rejection of Chinese statistics, similar to the comments on statistics about Cuban education.

Ronald Hilton - 1/31/00