Skilled Gansu, the 2nd provincial vocational education reform in China

Gansu is an important province in northwest China. The region is vast with rich products, especially natural and humanistic tourist resource; therefore, the number of tourists travel to Gansu grows day by day. With the deepening of the development of the west regions and people’s leisure time increasing, Gansu has once again become one of the focus of the national tourism.

Vast and graceful natural scenery like endless desert and pure glacial landscape presents an impressive and breath-taking picture before your eyes.

Apart from being a top tourist destination, Gansu also has a long history for vocational education development, especially international exchange and cooperation.

Rewi Alley was a New Zealand-born writer and political activist. He dedicated 60 years of his life to the establishment of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and technical training schools, including the Peili Vocational Institute.

In Shandan county, Rewi Alley built schools, factories, and founded Peili Vocational Institute, creating a legend of “teaching and production” education. Within a very short period of time, they recruited nearly 600 students and has 20 production team for students to put what they learn into practice. Now, the school has become a significant college to train more technical talents serving the countries and regions along the belt and road.

Rewi Alley combined theory with practice, which was a very innovative teaching method at that time.

On August 4, the kickoff conference for a provincial-ministerial cooperative campaign to promote the development of vocational education and the building of a “skilled Gansu” in the entire province of Gansu was held in Lanzhou, Gansu. Tang Renjian, Governor of Gansu and Deputy Secretary of the CPC Gansu Provincial Committee, and Sun Yao, Vice Minister of Education and Member of the MOE’s Party Leading Group, attended the conference. Vice Governor of Gansu Zhang Shizhen hosted and addressed the conference.

In 2019, Gansu was recognized by the General Office of the State Council as one of the four provinces that “had taken great strides in cooperation between schools and enterprises, created a sound environment for the development of vocational education and achieved significant outcomes in the reform of vocational education, and therefore should be rewarded and supported.” Gansu’s progress in vocational education made so far has laid the groundwork for a provincial-ministerial joint endeavor to promote comprehensive reform and improve the quality of vocational education. Recently, a Circular of the Ministry of Education and the People’s Government of Gansu Province on Promoting Vocational Education and Building a “Skilled Gansu” was officially issued, outlining requirements and plans for further steps in the development of vocational education in the province, to integrate into the implementation of the national Belt and Road Initiative and create a demonstrative model of modern vocational education in West China, as well as a series of innovative initiatives featured by more vigorous reform efforts and favorable policies.

Tourism is a driving force of vocational education in Gansu. Research and study tours in Dunhuang have become a new fashion. Visitors can learn about the local customs and colorful history and culture of Dunhuang through such tours. The picture shows students learning archery in Yangguan Museum.

Vice Minister Sun stated at the conference that, since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee had placed an emphasis on the reform and development of vocational education. This kickoff conference marked the launch of joint efforts by the MOE and the Gansu Provincial Government to promote innovation and development in China’s vocational education, following the first provincial-ministerial cooperative campaign of its kind in Shandong Province. Vice Minister Sun also called for innovative methods and deeper synergy in work, exploring paths for greater interaction, integration and quality development between vocational education and local industries in the western part of China, while providing a pipeline of technical and skilled talent to Gansu’s implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the experiences of Gansu in the building of a vocational education system with Chinese characteristics in the new era. The MOE and Gansu Provincial Government would reinforce policy making, management, monitoring and experience sharing, to ensure successful completion of tasks in building a “skilled Gansu”.

The conference was live streamed to remote participants at municipal (prefectural) level. After the kickoff ceremony, Gansu Provincial Government held a press meeting introducing the basics of the campaign.