Keynote Speech

Deepening Digital Transformation, Building A Bright Future of Education


Huai Jinpeng

Minister, Ministry of Education of P.R.C

February 13, 2023

Distinguished guests,

ladies and gentlemen,

dear friends,

Good afternoon!

Just now, we unveiled the opening of the World Digital Education Conference. Chinese government attached great importance to this conference. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan attended the conference and delivered important remarks, stressing the need to build the national smart education platform into an important public service product in the field of education, promoting the integration and development of digital technology and traditional education, and calling on all countries to work together to carry forward their fine traditions and promote innovation, for digital education to benefit people of all countries. Premier Sun’s remarks convey high expectations from the Chinese government on the promotion of high-quality development of digital education, all-round development of our people as well as social and civilizational progress.

Digital transformation marks an important trend of educational transformation worldwide. The theme of "Digital Transformation and the Future of Education" chosen by this conference serves to echo the Global Development Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly and the Global Digital Development Path put forward at the World Internet Conference, and respond to the vision statement of UN Secretary-General Guterres at the Transforming Education Summit, jointly exploring new solutions to the global education crisis in turbulent times. Through this conference, we aim to promote international cooperation in digital education, foster consensus on educational reform, boost global educational confidence and create a better educational future.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!

In his remarks at the 17th G20 Summit, President Xi Jinping pointed out: “We meet at a time of momentous changes unseen in a century, changes that are consequential to the world, to our times, and to history”. This is a transformation of the world, the times and history. In the new period of turbulent changes, global warming, anti-globalization, economic recession, regional conflicts and other complex factors are intertwined. The COVID-19 pandemic intensifies uncertainty and instability, the global poverty reduction effort is seriously undermined, and human society is facing unprecedented challenges. The question of the times “What's wrong with the world? What should we do about it?” reverberates in the globe.

At the same time, the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation are developing in depth, and digital technology has played a leading role in transforming and reshaping the thinking pattern, organizational structures and operational models of the human society in a fundamental and all-round manner. This has provided us with new opportunities and challenges for promoting development in an innovative way. “What is the goal of education and what is the path forward” has become a common topic for all countries in the world.

We are encouraged to see that the United Nations and all countries in the world are taking actions, deeming digital education as an important way to meet the challenges and anchor a bright future. UNESCO advocates building a new “social contract”, leveraging the educational dividend brought by digital technologies, so as to recognize education as a global public good. The United Nations Transforming Education Summit proposed that the digital revolution must benefit all learners. Many countries have introduced digital development strategies in response to the times, and education is an integral part. The effective actions of all parties will surely consolidate the “four pillars of education” in the digital age, which include “learning to know, learning to live together, learning to do, and learning to be”.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!

The Chinese government values the development of digital education as an important component of digital China. After years of continuous efforts, China’s educational informatization has achieved leap-forward development, with 100% internet access on campus and 99.5% of primary and secondary schools equipped with multimedia classrooms. Major breakthroughs have been achieved in large-scale application, injecting strong impetus into the development of education in China. Since 2022, we have vigorously implemented the national education digitalization strategic action, and put forward the "3C" concept of Connection, Content and Cooperation. Focusing on "Application, Service, Efficiency and Security", we launched the online platform of “Smart Education of China”, leveraging digital technologies for high-quality development of education. In the past year, the total number of visits to the platform exceeded 6.7 billion. The platform has now become the largest repository of educational resources in the world.

Smart technologies empower basic education to deliver quality and balanced outcome. “Smart Education of China” brings together the best digital resources of basic education in China, covering 10 sections, 53 columns and 44,000 entries of resources, including moral education, curriculum teaching, physical education, aesthetic education, labor education, after-school service, teacher training, family education, teaching reform experience and teaching materials. Thanks to the platform, children living far away in border and rural areas can “share the same class” with children living in big cities. Facing the suspension of in-person classes due to the pandemic, the platform supports online learning of nearly 200 million primary and secondary school students in China, so that learning continues despite suspended in-person classes. During the winter and summer vacations, special training was conducted for more than 13 million teachers nationwide to improve their teaching and research ability.

Smart technologies enable higher education to popularize quality courses in universities. We have seized the opportunity of developing large-scale online courses around the world and accumulated a large number of high-quality open online courses after a decade of development. At present, the platform has owned 76,000 elite teachers in colleges and universities, 27,000 high-quality courses and 1,800 national level quality courses, enabling learners to access the best courses from the world on one single platform, attracting learners from all over the world, with over 13 million international registered users from 166 countries and regions. I remember seeing a netizen’s message on the Internet, “This is a wonderful place for people of all ages to study and improve themselves.”

Smart technologies facilitate vocational education and enable more people to acquire professional development abilities. Leveraging the platform, nearly 55% of vocational school teachers have carried out blended teaching, exploring digital technologies and resources such as virtual simulation and digital twinning to simulate real-life scenarios to meet internship and training needs. For example, Hunan Automobile Engineering Vocational College explores the training method of "C+R" remote control and real field application in the 5G environment. Students can complete the training task anytime and anywhere by issuing operation instructions remotely. At present, there are 1,173 professional teaching resource libraries on the platform, more than 6,700 online quality courses, and more than 2,200 open video courses, covering nearly 600 disciplines. 215 training projects of demonstration bases on virtual simulation are distributed all over the country, helping to cultivate technical and skilled talents and nurturing students’ all-round growth, thus promoting high-quality economic and social development.

Smart education promotes employment and entrepreneurship, so that talent supply and market demand can be more effectively matched. In 2022, there were more than 10 million college graduates in China, which provided a strong impetus for China’s socio-economic development. However, under the influence of many factors such as the persistent COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing downward pressure on the economy, the employment pressure was unprecedented. We upgraded the online national employment service platform for college students, better matched supply with demand, and accelerated the sharing of job resources, especially for poor families, zero-employment families and graduates with physical disabilities, with a total of 13.7 million jobs shared. The survey shows that nearly one-third of recent graduates have found their jobs through this platform.

China builds a smart education platform, aggregates high-quality, systematic and multi-type digital education resources, and provides all-time one-stop services for students and the public. This has promoted the digitalization and fair allocation of educational resources, meeting the individualized and selective needs of learners and providing strong support for lifelong learning for all.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!

Education is closely linked with human growth and accompanied by the development of civilization. It is the oldest and noblest cause of mankind. However, every major development and innovation of science and technology, and every industrial change and lifestyle transformation, have influenced and even changed education. Digitalization is a new trend in the future. The integration of education and digitalization heralds a brighter future for both education and human civilization. What should be our values in breaking through the limitations of traditional education and creating new forms of digital education? We believe that:

Digital education should be fair and inclusive. It is our joint pursuit to advance inclusive education and ensure education for all. Digital technology features interconnectivity, high efficiency and real-time dynamic sharing. It can quickly and efficiently aggregate scattered high-quality educational resources, transcend temporal and spatial boundaries for dissemination and sharing across institutions, regions and countries, and enable people in different environments to obtain equal opportunities and channels of educational resources. At the same time, we must prevent the digital divide from aggravating the educational divide and move faster to realize “quality education for all”.

Digital education should be of higher quality. Quality is the lifeline of education, and digital technology is the steppingstone to improving educational quality. The development of digital education can enrich the scenario-based applications such as intelligent classroom, adaptive learning, smart diagnosis of learning progress, smart classroom evaluation, etc. It can also promote the integration and interaction between in-person and online education, improving pedagogy and making the educational process more creative, experiential and inspirational. Moreover, it is able to foster fundamental changes in classroom education, innovate teaching and talent nurturing. We need to enhance the efficiency and performance of educational governance and assessment through analytical applications of data, improve the efficiency of human learning and cognition, thus empowering better education.

Digital education should be accustomed to all. More than 2500 years ago, Confucius proposed the educational philosophy that education should be tailored to learner’s characteristics. In the history of human civilization, we have been striving to translate this ideal into reality. Digital education has unique advantages in individualized learning, differentiated teaching and informed evaluation. Through information tracking and mining, retrospective digital analysis, scientific monitoring and evaluation, it can record the track of students’ learning progress and provide customize education plans for each student. This will certainly reshape education, making it possible for everyone to receive education tailored to their needs, and contribute to building a learning-oriented society with lifelong learning for all.

Digital education should be conducive to green development. Green development pursues efficiency, harmony and sustainability in economic growth and social development. Facing intensifying crisis on global energy, climate change and biodiversity, education cannot stand by, instead, it needs to play a fundamental and supporting role to promote green economic and social development. We should follow the principle of frugality, simplicity and cost-effectiveness to develop digital education, with priority given to applications and services. We should remain pragmatic instead of setting unrealistic goals. We should cultivate students’ ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and use digital textbooks and teaching materials appropriately to catalyze and accelerate a low-carbon transformation of education through digitalization. We will make our contribution to green development and protect the shared homeland of mankind.

Digital education should embrace openness and cooperation. The digital age has brought us an efficient platform for open cooperation, a key factor to promote educational reform and innovation in the new era. We need to adhere to the principle of win-win cooperation, making full use of respective advantages and achieving common development when it comes to eliminating digital barriers, narrowing the digital divide, making education crisis-resilient, fostering growth potential through cooperation, exploring new development highlights, and promoting educational transformation and innovation. We should join hands to strengthen communication and exchange for more countries and people to share the benefits of digitalization through open cooperation, thus sharing the development achievements of digital education and accelerating educational reforms.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!

At present, the scientific and technological revolution is developing in depth, the industrial transformation is accelerating, and the social governance is iteratively upgrading. The way of human production and life and the way of thinking and communication have changed. New formats and new models are constantly emerging. The demand for diversified and flexible learning is increasing day by day, which not only puts forward an urgent need to reshape the content and form of education, but also drives for educational reform and high-quality development. The 20th National Congress of the CPC made it clear for the first time that we should promote education digitization and build a learning-oriented society and country with lifelong learning for all. We will better implement the strategic action of digitalization of education, promote the digitalization of resources, intelligent management, personalized growth, and socialization of learning, make high-quality resources replicable, transmissible, and shareable, enable large-scale personalized education possible, and take new steps in the construction of a learning society and a learning country with education digitalization. To this end, we will focus on the following four aspects:

First, strengthening the National Center to pool and share quality resources. Uneven distribution of educational resources is a common problem faced by countries in developing education. The wide application of digital technology has brought opportunities to promote the balance of educational resources and narrow the gap between regions, urban and rural areas and schools. On the basis of our existing work, we will make full use of China’s institutional, talent and resource advantages, accelerate the upgrading of system, service and function, and make every effort to build a national center of digital education resource.

We will establish the National Digital Resources Construction Committee to coordinate the development of high-quality resources and the provision of public services, evaluate digital resource management and application, improve the quality of campus education and digital education empowerment, coordinate policy and academic research and practical innovation, construct standards and specifications to ensure safe and efficient operation. Our National Center should be built into a resource development and utilization center, a public service center, an application development center, comprehensive research center and safety operation and maintenance center.

At the same time, the center will serve as a demonstration project to drive the construction of regional service centers on education resources. By strengthening the national center’s hub capacity and connecting regional centers, we can realize resource sharing and mutual recognition, and form a national public service system on digital education with multi-level and multi-party cooperation.

Second, strengthening data empowerment and improving educational effectiveness. The development of digital education pools not only high-quality resources, but also massive treasure of data, which provides important reference for countries to grasp the laws of education, teaching process and students’ growth. It could promote the combination of science education with humanistic quality enhancement, synergize engineering education and the training of practical ability, so as to serve all-round growth of students.

We will promote scientific and personalized teaching evaluation, using massive data to sketch learners’ profiles and generate educational schemata to better accommodate learners’ aptitude. We will promote the decentralized and diversified teaching and learning, conduct pedagogical research in digital education, increasing teachers’ digital literacy, innovate and apply diverse education models and evaluation methods to improve teaching quality. We will promote efficient and targeted education governance. Through application of AI and big data technologies, business collaboration, process optimization, structural remodeling and targeted management can be realized to improve the efficiency of education management and provide a sound basis for informed education decision-making.

Third, improving digital literacy for lifelong learning for all. The transformation of human society to the digital era not only has pressing demands on the socialization of learning, but also turns the lifelong learning more accessible. Education bears an important mission. We should use digital technology to accelerate the construction of a more open and flexible education system that is equal to, suitable for and accompanying everyone. We will actively promote learning for all, with extensive and in-depth application of Smart Education of China as the starting point. By implementing “reading action” and “silver age action”, we not only provide students with curriculum resources, but also learning service environment for the elderly and other members of society, thus building a learning support platform for learners around the world for everyone to get equal learning opportunities.

We will continue to promote comprehensive learning, not only to develop students’ knowledge, literacy and skills, but also to promote language communication and mutual learning from history and culture, so that more people can have comprehensive qualities for the modern society, and enhance cultural self-confidence, historical awareness and international understanding.

We will actively explore diverse learning, make full use of multiple means such as MOOC, mini-lectures and VR, provide ubiquitous, diverse and smart learning environment and learning ecology, develop efficient and robust online classrooms, to realize unification of education and society.

We will further promote lifelong learning, use digital technology to provide flexible and diverse continuing education opportunities for in-service personnel, provide training for career development and transformation, build a new university system for the elderly population, actively promote the improvement of credit bank, qualification framework and other systems, and lay a solid foundation for building a learning society in which everyone can learn anywhere, anytime.

Fourth, strengthening international cooperation for the prosperous development of civilizations. The development of digital education can enable teenagers from different countries, with different skin colors and different languages to learn and grow together in a common digital space, and enable people from different countries to carry out closer people-to-people and cultural exchanges, so as to deepen exchanges, tolerance and trust, eliminate barriers and misunderstandings, and promote mutual understanding and progress of mankind.

Teenagers are “network aborigines” and “trendsetters” in the digital era. We should build more communication platforms and create more cooperation opportunities for them, not only to help them understand the differences of global multiculturalism, improve mutual understanding, but also to help them better exchange digital learning experience and be galvanized for the development of the digital society.

We look forward to working with our counterparts from the world to jointly explore the planning, standards, monitoring and evaluation of digital education, carry out exchanges and cooperation in IPR protection, data security management, digital ethical risk prevention and privacy protection, and jointly inject new power into human civilization and make unremitting efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends!

Facing the future, we are willing to work with all countries to take the World Digital Education Conference as a new starting point, launch the international version of smart education platform, promote the co-construction and sharing of high-quality digital resources, study and design new mechanisms for international cooperation, jointly build a comprehensive, pragmatic and inclusive partnership, and promote world cooperation in the era of digital transformation to a new height.

Facing the future, we all have dreams. Let the network transcend time and space, let the connection transcend mountains and seas, and let cooperation transcend suspicion. Let us meet the needs of the times with open resources, expand trust and development through digital dialogue and communication, strengthen and optimize the eco-system of digital education for the benefit of all learners.

To realize this beautiful dream, we will always focus on the 3C principle of “connection, content and cooperation”, work with the world to forge ahead with perseverance and courage, and stride ahead of the times!

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!

Li Bai, the famous poet in China’s Tang Dynasty once said, “I will mount a long wind some day and break the heavy waves, and set my cloudy sail straight and bridge the deep, deep sea.” Developing digital education and promoting digital transformation are the trend of the times, the need for development, and the direction of reform. It is also the aspiration, responsibility, and mission of all educators.

I believe as long as we join hands in solidarity to seize opportunities and overcome challenges in rising tides, we will set sail in triumph for a brighter future of digital education!