China’s unequal educational system and declining working-age population are proving to be a double whammy for China in accomplishing its economic ambitions, said a US Congressional panel on February 24, reported the Indo Pacific Center For Strategic Communications (IPCSC). The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an independent panel established by the Congress in 2000, stated that the rural-urban divide in China on the educational front will prevent the country from surpassing the US in economy and science & technology fields at a time when China is aiming to replace the US by 2030 as the world’s military and economic superpower.
According to the South China Morning Post, citing a US Congressional panel, Chinese students in rural areas struggle with poor teachers, nutritional deficiencies, and mobility issues, whereas education in urban areas places a strong emphasis on creativity and innovation, assisting young people in arming themselves with knowledge and skills, IPCSC reported. Additionally, high school students in economically developed Chinese provinces excel in science and math and receive an education of a high calibre, but in less economically developed provinces of China, there is a gap in access to quality education, even in urban areas, according to a US Congressional panel. Although rural students make up two-thirds of all pupils in China, the rural-urban difference is still significant, according to the US Congressional panel.
According to Prashant Loyalka, an associate professor at Stanford University, “Chinese students may be entering university with higher levels of achievement compared to their peers abroad, but they showed little progress in basic academic skills and critical thinking over the course of their studies.” According to a report in IPCSC, Chinese thinkers are also concerned about the current quality of education in China at a time when international rivalry for the greatest technology to improve economies and societies is rising. Because it directly affects the quality of the workforce, the majority of whom are unable to manage China’s shift towards production automation, which has become crucial for the country to deal with issues brought about by its ageing population.
According to UN estimates from July 2022, China’s population is expected to drop below 400 million by the year 2100. Additionally, according to a 2021 analysis by the international management consulting firm McKinsey, up to 220 million Chinese workers may need to change careers by 2030 as a result of automation. China’s GDP increased by an average of more than 10 per cent a year between 1978 and 2013, according to World Scientific, a Singapore-based publishing house. As a result, the publishing company reported that China had overtaken the US as the second-largest economy since 2011. Unfortunately, it looks that the time of extraordinary economic development is coming to an end.
According to World Scientific, China’s annual GDP growth rate has fallen from 12 per cent to 6 per cent since 2011 and appears to be trending downward. The main causes of this have been attributed to the lack of skilled labour and the predominance of labour-intensive production methods in China’s manufacturing units. A report in IPCSC read that in its seminal paper from 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated, “The cornerstone of a framework for developing a suitably skilled workforce is: Broad availability of good-quality education as a foundation for future training; a close matching of skills supply to the needs of enterprises and labour markets; enabling workers and enterprises to adjust to changes in technology and markets; and preparing for skill needs of future.”
In China, there is a severe shortage of highly trained workers, and experts believe that this shortage cannot be filled unless both urban and rural children are given access to high-quality education. Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of graduates in China are able to find employment in the industrial sector. Professor Li Jingkui of Zhejiang University’s School of Economics in China argues that the education system in his nation, which is governed by “remnants of the backward ideology of the ancient feudal society,” is the primary cause of the talent demand gap.
In his piece titled “Why China has too many graduates and not enough skilled workers,” Li Jingkui, a Beijing-based investigative journalist, stated, “China saw a record 9.09 million new graduates from the country’s universities in 2021, an increase of 350,000 graduates over the previous year. Nonetheless, the nation’s industrial sector has an approximately 30 million person talent demand gap. The professor of economics agrees that a lack of skill will cause China to fall into the middle-income trap. So, as long as the educational system is not reformed and young people are not taught to think critically, the East Asian nation’s growth story will continue to be marred by a talent shortage, IPCSC reported. (ANI)
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