The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954


In 1949, the new government inherited 3 education models. One was based on the GMD program, which was a mixture of traditional schooling and western ideas (following different university models from especially Germany, France, and the United States). The second model was based on the experience of the CCP in the Jiangxi Soviet period (1931–1934), and the Yan’an era (1936–1945), with a focus on the principle of the mass line and practicality. The third example is based on SU education system in the Northeast of China, which advocated the importance of political education as the main goal for schools. In this mix ‘Chinese nationalism, science, and popular’ are also added. The monopoly of power by the CCP is a constant factor in teaching.
The objective of the new administration can be defined "In the early years of the PRC, there was an effort to fix children into their proper place and give them a very specific type of childhood, one that included an education and a safe, materially comfortable living situation. This vision of childhood was partially reactive to the Korean War, to provide a model of happy, healthy children under socialism that could be a weapon in the propaganda war against the U.S." The shortage of teachers and financial resources forces the CCP to promote the role of the family in the education of the child. Although the party realizes that this is not an entirely reliable environment for properly rearing good socialist children. This ‘household education’ is seen as an important instrument to raise ‘new children’ "– who should be raised in happy comfortable households – were “masters of the future society” (jianglai shehui de zhurenweng)." A series of posters from 1952 educated parents on the best ways to rear their children.
Household education


At the First National Conference on Education (23-31 December 1949), the vice minister of Education,
Qian Junrui
Qian Junrui (1908-1985) vice minister of education. (1951) Director of Higher Education from 1949 to 1953. Economist In 1920's he went to Japan to study the new educational practices
,pointed out the seven challenges facing the reform and development of education in PRC, namely: (1) building a new democratic system of education by absorbing the useful experiences of the old society and borrowing from the Soviet Union experience; (2) establishing the People’s Universities to cultivate professionals and fast middle schools to cultivate intellectuals; (3) conducting literacy movements across whole country; (4) improving the quality of education in the old liberated areas; (5) uniting and reforming the thinking of intellectuals in the old liberated areas; (6) reforming the old educational system gradually and accumulating experiences; (7) preserving and restructuring private schools administrated by Chinese governments.
Tsang (2000) formulates 3 dilemmas political leaders are confronted with in reforming education. 1) Education for political/ideological development versus education for economic development. (see Article 43) 2) Education for social equality versus education for efficiency. (see Article 47) 3) Enlisting intellectuals and high-skilled personnel in socialist development versus treating them as antagonists and suppressing them. (see Article 46)
Teng (2005) notices that a two-track system in education can be traced back to the GMD government. The government finances urban schools, the local community in rural areas, finances village schools. In 1951, (Decision on the Reform of the Education System) the new regime validates this system. "This principle of “selective development” in the education policy meant that rural people had to take up the responsibility of educating their children. Educational expenditures had to be raised and maintained by the rural masses, while the city residents were subsidised for the same needs and desires."
Fig. 41.1 New education system 1951
Source: Wang (1955). Page 28

Fig. 41.2 National education system 1952
Source:Oates (1983). Page 395


U (2004) describes the situation in Shanghai where the local authorities are forced to recruit "...large numbers of people whom it regarded as politically suspicious. Among the newcomers, a considerable number had held important positions in the Nationalist regime; some had recently been fired from their jobs because of economic, sexual, or other wrongdoing; and others were former capitalists, landlords, or convicts forced into a different way of life by social and political change." This shortage of reliable teachers is partly caused by the career choice of young graduates. Central ministries, provincial agencies, local governments, factories, and mines are more successful than schools in attracting college graduates. Additionally, the PLA recruits young graduates to become political instructors, propaganda officers, and military journalists. One way of solving the shortage problem is the promotion of primary school teachers to the secondary level. The other way is the recruitment of unemployed managers, brokers, shop owners, and white-collar workers who were fired during the sanfan campaign. Many of them had graduated junior high school and were teacher candidates for primary and secondary schools, despite their backgrounds.The other group of recruited teachers are former staff members and officials who came from the abolished regional party and state organs. Those new teachers were mostly not highly qualified and had often health problems. In the early years after the overtake in Shanghai, most secondary schools were still private owned and they could still freely hire personnel.
Brzycki (2018) concludes "Schools, whether public or private, generally retained the same teachers, who were most often given professional rather than political re-education, and at least in Tianjin, continued to use the many of the same materials from before 1949."


In the period 1950-1952, the total government expenditure on education is 6,43% of the total budget, and this is 1,53% of the national income. In the period of the first 5 year plan (1953-1957), the total government expenditure on education grows to 6,92%, this is 2,3% of the national income.
Fig. 41.3 Number of students 1950-1954
Sources: Pepper (1996). Pages 200-201
Oates (1983). Page 395
*Worker peasant short course middle school

Fig. 41.4 Enrollment secondary schools 1949-1954
Source: Pepper (1996). Page 201
This stacked column chart shows clearly the percentage decrease in fine arts and the percentage increase in engineering and agriculture in a very brief period.
Fig. 41.5 Students peasant- workers background 1951-1953
Source: Pepper (1996). Page 214. % of all students
This chart shows the slowly rise in the particpation of sons and daughters of workers and peasants in tertiary education. The following chart shows the low percentage of women involved in study.
Fig. 41.6 Female percentage of total students 1949-1954
Source: Niu (1997). Page 57.


Brzycki (2018). Page 114 [↩] [Cite]
Brzycki (2018). Page 109 [↩] [Cite]
Yang (2018). Page 21 [↩] [Cite]
Brzycki (2018). Page 61 [↩] [Cite]
Tsang (2000). Page 4 [↩] [Cite]
Teng (2005). Page 2 [↩] [Cite]
U (2004). Page 47 [↩] [Cite]
Tsang (2000). Education and national development. Page 13 [↩] [Cite]

Meetings ....


23-12-1949 - 31-12-1949: First National Education Conference
01-06-1950 - 08-06-1950: First National Higher Education Conference
June 1953: Second National Education Conference

Chapter 5 of Common Program