Vocational education started inChinamore than 130 years ago. After the founding of the People's Republic ofChina, vocational education underwent a process of adjustment, rectification, substantiation, reform, improvement and steady development.China's first Vocational Education Law was promulgated and implemented in 1996, which provides legal guarantee for development and improvement of vocational education. The "Decision on Deepening Educational Reform and Promoting Quality Education" by the State Council in 1999 emphasizes that an educational system suitable for the socialist market economy and the internal law of education with different types of education linking up to each other should be established, and that vocational education should be greatly developed and senior secondary education including regular and vocational education should also be actively developed. The system of vocational education consists of education in vocational schools and vocational training.
Vocational education inChinais provided at three levels: junior secondary, senior secondary and tertiary.
Conducted mainly in junior vocational schools and aimed at training workers, peasants and employees in other sectors with basic professional knowledge and certain professional skills, junior vocational education refers to the vocational and technical education after primary school education and is part of the 9-year compulsory education. Students in secondary vocational schools should be primary school graduates or the youth with equivalent cultural knowledge, and secondary vocational schooling lasts 3 to 4 years. At present, there are 1,472 such schools with an enrollment of 867,000 students.
The secondary level mainly refers to the vocational education in senior high school stage. Composed of specialized secondary schools, skill workers schools and vocational high schools, and as the mainstay of vocational education inChina, secondary vocational education plays a leading role in training manpower with practical skills at primary and secondary levels of various types. Enrolling junior high school graduates with a schooling of usually 4 years and sometimes 3 years, the basic tasks of these schools are to train secondary-level specialized and technical talents for the forefront of production, and all the students should master the basic knowledge, theory and skills of their specialty in addition to the cultural knowledge required for higher school students. In 1998, there were altogether 17,090 secondary vocational schools, with the enrollment of 11,460,000 students.
With the schooling lasting 2 to 3 years, tertiary vocational education mainly enroll graduates from regular high schools and secondary vocational schools. Aiming at training secondary and high-level specialized technical and management talents needed in the economic construction, tertiary vocational education emphasizes the training of practice-oriented and craft-oriented talents. At present, institutions providing tertiary vocational education are divided into five categories: the first is the 30 higher vocational technology colleges, with the enrollment of 149,000 students; the second is the 101 short-circle practice-oriented vocational universities with local figures; the third is the 5-year higher vocational classes provided in the regular specialized secondary schools; the fourth is the tertiary vocational education provided in some regular higher education institutions and adult higher education institutions, which has been experimented in over 130 specialties among 180 institutions; the last is the reformed regular institutions offering 2 to 3-year higher education with the emphasis on training practice-oriented talents, namely high-level professional technical talents, for the forefront of production.
At present, vocational training is mainly conducted and managed by the departments of education and labor, but enterprises are encouraged to provide vocational training for their own employees. In 1997, there were 2,800 employment training centers under the labor departments with the capacity of training 3 million person-time per year and 20,000 employee training centers within enterprises with the capacity of training 30 million person-time per year.