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Literacy Coordination in China


China has made impressive achievements in promoting literacy. The number of illiterates has declined by 19 million from 2000 to 2008, with literacy rates climbing to 94%. Elimination of illiteracy among youth and adults is one of the two priorities of the government of China. Among many other things, China’s literacy coordination and management system has much to do with the country’s significant achievements in literacy. A strong literacy programme calls for a well-coordinated, unified system that allows various line ministries, NGOs, local governments and other stakeholders act in unison. The national system of literacy education in China brings all concerned sectors and social forces together within a coordinated management structure to achieve joint efforts in literacy promotion.

In 1994, the government established the inter-ministerial coordination group for literacy education consisting of 11 ministries and commissions, including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Forestry, the Ministry of Broadcast and Television, the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of CPC, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, the National Women’s Federation, and the National Association of Science and Technology. This group provides policy guidance, ensures coordination, and works to create and sustain a conducive environment for promoting literacy. This institutional arrangement runs at all levels from the center to the village level so that programmes are coordinated.

The Education Law of the PRC promulgated in 1995 provides for people’s governments at various levels, grassroots mass autonomous mass organizations, enterprises and institutions should take all possible measures to carry out literacy education programmes. There is a clear division of responsibilities between different levels of administration and relevant departments. The coordination mechanism allows collaboration between government and non-governmental organizations and partnerships with private enterprises and public corporations.

Chinese National Commission for UNESCO & Chinese Adult Education Association (2008). Adult Education and Learning in China: Development Situation and Present Situation. UNESCO National Commission for China: Beijing.

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