On May 16, Chen Baosheng delivered a keynote speech entitled “AI education in China” at the Ministers’ Forum held under the theme of “emerging policies and strategies for leveraging AI to achieve SDG 4”, forming part of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education. In his speech, the education minister shared his insights on how to develop China’s education in an AI-empowered era.
Chen first recalled the substantial efforts that China had invested in developing its education system over the last 4 decades, guided by policies that put education first and ensured universal access to education. He pledged that the MOE would continue to invest more to provide better, more equitable, and more open education for all citizens, regardless of their age.
He noted the great opportunities that IT was creating for China’s education, and spoke of two major action plans that the MOE was rolling out to catch the emerging waves in IT innovation to further advance education, including the Ten-Year Education Informatization Plan 2011-2020, and the Education Informatization 2.0 Action Plan. He added that more recently, to avail China’s education system of advances in big data, IoT and block chain technologies, the MOE had introduced new action plans, such as the New Generation AI Development Plan and the AI Innovation Action Plan in Institutions of Higher Learning, laying the groundwork for the mainstreaming of AI technologies in education and teaching practices, training of teachers, and academic research.
Whilst acknowledging the vital role played by AI in boosting education, Chen was also keenly aware of the challenges it presented. He put forward four suggestions for harnessing AI technology for the betterment of education. First, AI knowledge needed to be popularized to nurture teenagers' interest in AI and innovation, and help teachers make use of AI in their routine teaching. Second, a dialogue mechanism needed to be established between industry and academia, to facilitate the translation of AI-related research into smart products and infrastructure that could be used on campus. Third, AI technology could be leveraged as a powerful force for reforms in education and teaching practices, school governance and open learning. Fourth, the development of educational strategies, standards and practices could benefit from technological innovation.