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2000年11月亚特兰大全美幼教年会主题报告
2006-08-31        点击:2830

  

   SURVEY OF CONTEMPORARY PRESCHOOL

    EDUCATION IN MAINLAND CHINA

 

Jiaxiong Zhu

East China Normal University, Shanghai, PR of China

 

 In China the contemporary preschool education evolving along with the Chinese social development and reform. The founding of the People's Republic of China, the preschool education has made great strides forward in spite of the bad influence of the rash advance in the late 1950s and the chaos in the 1960s-1970s. Especially from 1980s, the policy of reform and opening up has been greatly animating the preschool education. Radical changes in educational theory and educational practice have taken place.

From 1949 to today the preschool education in China went through three steadily developing stages (1949-1957, 1962-1965, 1978-  ), two unstable stages (1958-1962, 1975-1978) and one stagnant stage (1966-1974). Now I brief the general development of the preschool education in mainland China.

 ⑴ The First Steadily Developing Stage (1949-1957)

     In October 1949, as the People’s Republic of China was established, the people’s government set about developing the preschool education on the basis of rectifying reorganizing and reforming the former preschool education. On October in 1951 the state council promulgated the “Decision on Reforming the Educational System” stipulating “kindergartens are the institutions that perform the preschool education, kindergarten ought to enroll the children of exact age from 3 to 7, and ensure their healthy development in mind and body."

Guided by the policy overall following the Soviet Union, we totally adopted the theory and experiences on the preschool education of the Soviet Union. The ministry of education invited two experts of the Soviet Union in the preschool education to give lectures in China and spread their experiences nation wide. The teaching program specified the contents and time, demanded that kindergartens should systematically teach the children by means of school assignment.

     In 1952, the “Provisional Regulation of Kindergarten" and the “Provisional Teaching Program of Kindergarten” issued by the Ministry of Education provided that kindergartens enrolled children from 3 to 7. The activities in kindergartens include physical training, language, knowledge of circumstances, drawing, handwork, music and calculation, but exclude learning to read. It also stipulated the courses of the educational activities in kindergartens and the teaching program of the courses. The program emphasized the courses scientifically and logically, emphasized the guiding function of teachers, suggested that the teachers lead the children to go in for purposeful and planed activities, fuse teaching into the children’s everyday life in the kindergartens.

     The government partially transformed the private kindergartens while some well run were kept. According to the statistics, in 1952 there were 6500 kindergartens in the country, five times those in 1946. The enrolled children increased by twofold. During the period of the National First Five-year Plan (1953-1957), the preschool education had steadily developed. In 1957, there were 16400 kindergartens in the country. The number of both the kindergartens and the enrolled children increased by 150%.

     ⑵ Rashly Advancing Stage (1958-1962)

   In 1958, the “Greatleap Movement” was launched in China. The unrealistic hope of rapidly developing economy shrouded all the country, boasting and exaggerating plagued nationwide. The circle of preschool education shouted the slogan that most of the children shall be enrolled in nurseries and kindergartens within 3-5 years. Thus the number of kindergarten, especially in the countryside abnormally soared. The developing speed of preschool education greatly exceeded that of national economy in 1958. The kindergartens were forty-two times the number of 1957, about 700000, the enrolled children were up to twenty nine million five hundred thousand, 27 times the number of 1957. The additions were mainly those run by local people in the countryside. But the number was unstable, sometimes increased and sometimes reduced drastically up or down. For example, in 1959 was 23% down against 1958. In 1960, it was 47% up against 1959. In 1961, it was 92% down against 1960.

    ⑶ Adjusting and Consolidating Stage (1962-1965)

    From 1962 to 1965, the government redressed the blunder of unrealistic optimism and rash advance, practiced the policy of “Adjusting, Consolidating Replenishment and Enhancement”. Through adjusting the preschool education, the nurseries and kindergartens were gradually stabilized. In 1965, there were 19200 kindergartens in the country, a little more than 1957, but 15 times the highest number before 1949, the enrolled children were one million and seven hundred ten thousand, only 57% up against 1957.

    ⑷ Stagnant Stage (1966-1974)

    During the “Great Cultural Revolution” (1966-1976), the preschool education was severely impacted. Many kindergartens were forced to shut down. The toys, teaching materials and books were destroyed. The premises were occupied and the teachers were hurt. The relevant statistical data are unobtainable. But in the later phase of this period, with the restoration of the schools and colleges, the kindergartens were not only restored, but also developed. According to the statistics in 1974, there were 40000 kindergartens in the country. Increased by over 100%, the enrolled children increased by over 50% against 1965.

    ⑸ The Second Rashly Advancing Stage (1975-1978)

    After the “Great Cultural Revolution” ended, the preschool education came back to the right way, regained the attention of the society. But owing to overanxiousness of quick results and lack of powerful macroscopic control of the government, rash advance in the preschool education repeated. The phenomenon of unstableness appeared again. In 1975, the kindergartens in the country were 5 times those in 1974, up to 171700. In 1976, the number was 12 times that of 1974, up to 442500. In 1978, it dropped to the level of 1975,was around 16400, the number of enrolled children was up and down accordingly.

    (6) The third steadily developing stage (1979-  )

    In 1978, the governments at all levels resumed their administration of preschool education. Overhauled and reorganized all round the preschool education that was impacted by the ten-year chaos. The most important step was the promulgation of “Teaching Program of Kindergarten” in 1981, regulating the teaching and health protection in kindergarten by means of administrative decree. It exerted an effect on the teaching order and enhancing the quality of nursing and teaching On the basis of the two documents issued in 1952, the program specified the teaching contents of kindergartens. It included hygienic habit, ethics, physical training, language, calculation, music and drawing. It emphasized that the kindergartens ought to fulfil the teaching task through games, sports, lessons. observing, labor, recreation and every day life. The program warned against schooling and adultizing, demanded that the erroneous tendency of “lesson first, playing second "should be corrected. But, since taking lessons was specified as an important activity in the kindergartens, it actually stressed the importance of language and other subjects conducted by teachers.

      From the 80s, China started its practice on reformation and opening policy, which  great influence on traditional educational concepts. Preschool educators were no longer satisfied with the section education, which had last for more than 30 years. They started children education reformation activities in large scale. Those foreign education theories, such as Dowey, Montessori, Bronfenbrenner, Bruner, especially Piaget and Vygotsky, began to spread widely in China, and the thoughts of Chinese recent and modern educationists were taken to important place again. These all provided the theory background for preschool education reformation. The most influential measure of this reformation is the  “Kindergarten Work Regulations and Procedure”, issued by National Education Committee in 1989. This regulation is formally issued after 7-years’ practice and revisions, It reflects the original objection of the reformation, that is, the childhood education should face the wold, face the future and face the modernization. Through administrative methods, it promoted its contents to each level of administrative organizations and each kindergarten. Its reforming spirit is mainly reflected in the following respects:

    1.It emphasizes the active activities of children, and provides opportunities for substantial activities;

    2.It emphasizes that education must comply with the individual difference, and promotes the development of each child in different levels;

    3.It emphasizes the importance of play in children education;

    4.It emphasizes to compound education in daily kindergarten activities;

    5.It emphasizes the process of kindergarten activities.

    During the course of practicing the regulation, theory and practice workers of children education started development and research, applied each reforming measure and tried all educational plans. Speaking objectively, this reformation practice greatly changed the thoughts of childhood education workers. Many kindergarten teachers started to understand that it is necessary to respect children and meet their needs, should take children’s development as the start point of education, and should pay more attention to children’s daily life in kindergarten, to make them study independently and actively during daily activities. But, the change of the traditional concept and practice needs a long procedure, and the improvement of teacher quality takes time, Till now, we are still from distance with our ideal situation. What’s more, the development is very unbalanced throughout the country. But, we should understand that the childhood education reformation, which takes curriculum reformation as breakthrough, is still in process, and it will definitely improve the quality of preschool education step by step.

     After 1978, the number of kindergarten in the country has once again become stable, maintaining the number around 100000; the enrolled child armed ten million according to the statistic in 1989. There are 172000 kindergartens in the country, 134 times those of 1946. The enrolled children were about fourteen million, 14 times those of 1946 in which, those in cities accounted for 19% of the total, those in counties and towns accounted for 12%, the remainder was in countryside. In 1994, there were 174600 kindergartens and about twenty-six million enrolled children in the country.  In 1998, the number of kindergartens and enrolled children increased to about 181400, and twenty-four thousand respectively.

 

 

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