The Ministry of Education announced at a recent press conference that China had achieved milestone progress in aesthetic education during the past decade, in terms of policies, educational orientation, pedagogy, quality assurance resources, implementation mechanisms, flagship programs, inter alia.
The number of teachers working in the arts in primary education rose from 434,100 in 2008 to 717,000 in 2018, with an average growth rate of 5.1%. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the number of teachers in arts disciplines has increased at an average rate of 8.7% per year. Between 2008 and 2018, the qualification rate of classroom equipment and supplies for art and music at primary schools and junior middle schools across the country improved from 45.6% and 59.8% to 93.8% and 95.5%, respectively.
Curriculum development for aesthetic education also progressed over the same period. In 93.5% of all provinces, autonomous regions and cities, total music and art classes provided in compulsory education exceeded the national benchmark by 9%. 92.1% of senior middle schools offered 6 credits of required courses in the arts, while 75.7% of secondary vocational schools incorporated the arts as a required subject into their common foundational courses and 84.6% of higher education institutions opened public arts courses to all students.
Institutional innovation and improvement has contributed to reforms in aesthetic education in schools. During 2016-2018, MOE signed Memoranda for the Reform and Development of Aesthetic Education with 31 provincial, autonomous regional and municipal governments as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, with a view to building a joint working mechanism between state-level agencies and local governments. In addition to a coordination mechanism to join the efforts of schools, families and society, an integrated mechanism has been established and refined to combine classroom teaching and campus culture with extracurricular practice and arts performance and demonstration. Meanwhile, a comprehensive assessment mechanism for aesthetic education has been designed, covering students and faculties in primary and middle schools and education related government agencies.
As stated by Wang Dengfeng, Director-General of MOE’s Department of Physical, Health and Arts Education, to push forward the reform of aesthetic education, China had to further reform the evaluation system for aesthetic education, by giving due respect to aesthetic education and the fostering of students’ appreciation of fine arts in the evaluation of well-rounded education.
Wang added that, the work done by schools in the field of aesthetic education and the development of their students’ aesthetic tastes and humanistic qualities would be taken as key indicators in evaluating the efficiency of schools, education related government agencies and local governments, so as to mobilize all parties to create a favorable atmosphere in support of aesthetic education.