Like schools in the United States, China uses its schools to influence its culture.
A new guideline issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and State Council aims to advance education reform and improve the quality of compulsory education through an educational system that "will foster citizens with an all-round moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic grounding, in addition to a hard-working spirit, according to the document." According to Bill Biship at Sinocism, the intention of the effort is to foster "comprehensive quality with firm faith, patriotism, integrity, broad knowledge and striving spirit."
Educational focus on labor
A significant portion of this reform focuses on teaching students about the value of labor. According to Zheng Fuzhi, vice minister of education, "Labor education will be incorporated into the education system to foster citizens with an all-round moral, intellectual, physical, and aesthetic grounding, in addition to a hard-working spirit."
The goal of emphasizing labor, Zheng said, is to "cultivate a right view of the world, life and values and develop an interest in doing labor." Labor education will range from household chores to on-campus labor to community volunteer services
Education as a way into the future
China's emphasis on labor is another strategy to move beyond playing manufacturing catch-up to global manufacturing dominance. A 2016 report by J.P.Morgan found "China, global powerhouse and the world’s largest developing country, faces an acute skills shortfall along with the challenges of an ageing population and a shrinking labor force. Labor costs are rising, supply and demand is dangerously skewed, and vocational training is unable to fill the breach fast enough. Labor – more accurately, the quality of labor and the speed of training, transformation, and transfer to where it is needed most – is the motor that needs to be fine-tuned to ensure that China’s growth does not grind to a halt."
China's labor education comes at a time of declining workers. The labor population is predicted to continue to drop. Projections are that in 2030 the labor population will total 830 million; in 2050 it will fall to 700 million.