The Rise and Decline of Vocational Education: China’s Experience 1985 – 2005

By Ning Zhang.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Abstract: As a part of the strategic planning for national economic reforms and development, the Chinese government initiated a massive education structural reform in 1985, in which senior secondary education was streamed into two tracks: general and vocational. The vocational track grew rapidly during the first 10 years but enrolments started to fall from the late 1990s and has not peaked again, despite the government’s repeated efforts.
This paper argues that the rise and fall of secondary vocational education is a replica of international experiences during the first half of the 20th Century. The decline of the secondary vocational education was commonly due to many factors including the impact of globalisation and changes on the labour market, expansion of higher education, and social demand on equal rights for people with different backgrounds. In addition, it is argued that the fundamental factor is the ideological view on education from different stakeholders. China is no exception.

Keywords: Vocational Education, General Education, Globalisation, Ideological Views on Education

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp.133-150. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.192MB).

Dr. Ning Zhang

Lecturer, Centre for Asian Studies, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Holder of Master of Educational Studies from Queensland University, and PhD and Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Adelaide. Dr. Zhang conducts research into the history, state and future of vocational education in China, and has been invited to participate in research projects on vocational education in China and Australia.


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