When China and ASEAN aren’t butting heads over islands, they tend to get along pretty well.
This Monday marked the beginning of the eighth China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week, which is an annual event in Guiyang, capital of Southwest China’s Guizhou Province. According to the China Daily, an Educational Ministry official announced that over 10 countries involved in China’s Silk Road Initiative hoped China would assist their educational advancement by incorporating China’s educational institutions and programs.
Beyond the banal diplomatic-speak, there are important issues at play.
With the increasing number of vocational schools and their graduates, China has been sending technical workers and Chinese products all over the world.
Egypt, for example, is one of the countries involved in the Initiative, and is now seeking to raise its educational horizon by absorbing know-how from Chinese universities. Yan Bingchen, from the ministry’s International Cooperation and Exchange Department, shared his experience in visiting Egypt where people use Chinese products on daily basis and welcome Chinese schools: “local people hope Chinese universities, especially those specializing in applied technologies, can open branches to teach local students”.
A more nuanced take on Egypt-China commercial ties recently came from renowned China-watcher Peter Hessler, in his lengthy analysis of Sino-Egyptian trade through the lens of lingerie sales.
Ideally, the educational exchange would contribute to improving educational and economic situation in those countries, but there is a plenty of difficulties in realizing this goal. Since running schools in overseas will be expensive, these governments are hoping for more investment. Also, a lack of those teachers who can speak both Chinese and local languages make educational exchanges challenging.
Though some critiques point out that the traditional Chinese method of education—that focuses on the rote memorization—might kill their capacity for creativity. The meeting will last till this Friday, with more cooperation announcements expected.
There sure is still room to improve education in China