Dr. Xiaodong Lin, director of the Advisory Board of Research for China’s new National Research Center for Ethnic Minority and Multicultural Education, was the subject of a recent profile, and recently met with IEN contributor Eun Kyoung Chung to discuss the issue of ethnic minority education in China. The advisory board consists of 20 scholars, educational leaders and teachers from China, the United States and other countries. As Dr. Lin explained, the Chinese government is working to develop research, theory and policy on minority education concerns such as student performance, teacher training, as well as access to quality education for all. During its first two years, the Center will research how to improve the motivation of learning for students from different ethnic and low-income backgrounds and remote areas, particularly on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Education for multicultural students has been a growing issue in other countries such as South Korea as well.
Since the year 2000, when Education For All (EFA) was initiated by the World Conference on Education in Dakar and 164 countries, including China, pledged to meet EFA goals by 2015, compulsory education in China has expanded to cover a population of 160 million; however, universal education still has a long way to go, particularly concerning disparities between urban and rural areas, rising demands of the poor, migration, ethnic minority groups, and the changing economic situation.
The issue of unfair education policies for ethnic-minority populations has been in the news recently as the Equal Opportunities Commission has pressed the government to move more swiftly. The Commission would like schools to be provided with resources and teacher training that would facilitate cultural integration and a second-language curriculum for Chinese. One recent article also suggested that a lack of economic or educational support ethnic minority students receive from their parents might be a contributing factor that needs to be taken into account.
President Xi Jinping noted that “the task of developing the educational cause is arduous,” especially when the country has 260 million students and 15 million teachers. With a resolute focus on reinvigorating the country through science and education, he plans to give priority to education development and the nurturing of ethnic minority talent.