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TC's Center for Chinese Education Holds International Conference

The harsh February weather did not discourage more than 100 people from attending the first ever International Conference on Chinese Education at Teachers College. The group consisted of representatives from more than a dozen universities in North America and Asia. The program looked at critical issues across all levels of education confronting China today, according to Professor Mun Tsang, Director of the Center. "It was also an occasion to celebrate the approximately 100-year relationship between Teachers College and modern Chinese education," Tsang added.


Acting President Darlyne Bailey welcomed the participants, saying, "The conference reflects Teachers College's strong commitment to international education. In addition, the conference reflects Teachers College's strong interest and expertise in Chinese education and in US-China educational exchange. China is an important member of the global community, and an engaged and constructive relationship between the United States and China is in the interest of both countries and of the world."

Researchers from as far away as Peking University and as close as Teachers College presented their work illustrating studies being done on China's educational system. From financing higher education, to providing equitable education and health insurance to minority groups in China, to effective methods of teaching mathematics, each presenter outlined the direction in which China is headed.

TC alumnus Leslie Lo, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who received his Ed.D. in 1992 from the College, summarized presentations at the Primary and Secondary Education session. Lo commented on the issues of access and school financing in China and noted that while there is an assumption that the "State will remain prime provider of education provision," there is a question about whether it should. A new law passed in January 2003 introduced the concept of private education in that country.

Lo noted that one must "look beyond access issues as a major indicator of quality education," adding that the presenters touched on issues of access to those of keeping students in school. Most of the attention, he said, focused on State-sponsored schooling. "The limitations should be more than obvious," he said. "Alternative channels of schooling and higher education should be high on the development agenda of the Chinese government."

A special session devoted specifically to doctoral student presentations completed the conference, with TC's Yanqing Ding speaking on her paper, "Compulsory Education in China's Minority Districts: Underfunded or Favorably Financed?" Other doctoral students represented Harvard University, the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto.

The day's events were organized by the Center on Chinese Education and supported by the Lingnan Foundation and the Henry Luce Foundation. 

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