In 2020, the Ministry of Education (MOE) received a total of 1,160 education-related proposals from NPC deputies and CPPCC members, all of which received a response after communication and investigation. The proposal handling process not only helped resolve specific problems in educational practice, but also resulted in a broad array of policy measures aimed at enabling improvements in five key areas: moral education, education equity and quality, the support of education to economic and social development, and mechanisms of financial support for education development.
Direct involvement of top leaders in proposal processing
The high quality and high efficiency of proposal response was partly due to the top leaders’ direct involvement and the adoption of diversified forms of communication. In 2020, various MOE departments had face-to-face discussions with 88 deputies or members across the country through special visits, seminars, investigation, and teleconferences, etc.
Professor Wang Xiaojie from Ludong University, became an NPC deputy in 2018, yet she had never experienced the MOE’s seminar approach to responding to proposals. In 2020, she tabled three education-related proposals which were all cross-cutting in nature, and thus the ministry decided to organize a seminar to handle these proposals, bringing together all the relevant departments to discuss issues raised, with her.
Zhang Shuqin, principal of a primary school in Linyi city, Shandong province also participated in a seminar, in which vice education minister Zheng Fuzhi directly answered her question about how to teach “labor education” as a stand-alone course. The face-to-face communication with policy makers removed her doubts and encouraged her to make brave explorations in the new course as it is taught in her school.
In 2020, the MOE selected 35 key proposals covering 9 themes, all of which were handled under the supervision of top leaders through face-to-face communication with the deputy or member that had submitted the proposals. “Direct responses from top leaders made me feel that my proposals were respected and valued, which will motivate me to do more research during my service as a deputy,” said Zhang Shuqin.
Proposals prompting evidence-based policy responses
In 2020, the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 necessitated a shift to online teaching, a form that was rather new to most teachers and students in the country. While posing severe challenges, the epidemic also represented an unprecedented opportunity to visionary educators such as Wang Xiaofan, a CPPCC member and vice president of Shanghai University, who regarded the launch of large-scale online teaching a driving force for the reform of education technologies and reshaping of education practice.
Taking his proposal into full consideration, the MOE organized a survey of over 6 million teachers and students in 1,000 higher education institutions, resulting in more than 100 research reports, which provided evidence-based recommendations for the implementation of online teaching.
The issuance of the Plan on Deepening the Reform of Education Evaluation in the New Era in October 2020 which invited hot debates in the education community, was also an outcome of the ministry’s active response to suggestions from deputies and members. Professor Wang Xiaojie, in particular, stated in her proposal that the current one-size-fits-all evaluation system should be replaced by a classified one, as it was only suitable for “double first-class” universities, not regional ones like Ludong University where she worked. At the seminar, the MOE leaders acknowledged the rationality of her proposal, considered the possibility of basing evaluation on the missions of each individual HEIs, and made initial plans for conducting a pilot study in Ludong University.
Likewise, a series of other specific policy measures might not be possible without the MOE’s active and timely response to the proposals of deputies and members. As Chen Malin (vice chairman of Hannan Provincial CPPCC Committee) said, “In 2020, the ministry adopted many robust measures in promoting the modernization of education, and its efficiency and effectiveness would encourage me to continue submitting more valuable suggestions on issues of public concern.”