From 16-20 December 2019, the media delegation for the OUC's ‘Realising Dreams of Further Education' visited the OUC branches in Guangdong and Fujian for in-depth interviews related to this programme; it was accompanied by the OUC Publicity Department (Press Centre) and the Office for Industrial-worker Education. The interviews were conducted with both enterprise personnel and students in order to determine the changes the programme had brought about in the lives of workers.

The delegation was made up of 11 reporters from 9 media outlets, including Guangming Daily, the People's Political Consultative Conference News, China Youth Daily, Farmers’ Daily, Workers’ Daily, China Education Network Television, People’s Daily Online, China Online, and E-Learning.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education, together with All-China Federation of Trade Unions, launched the national “Realising Dreams of Further Education” and issued the “Action Plan for Boosting Education and Ability Programme for MigrantWorkers: Realising Dreams of Further Education”. To implement the programme, the OUC established a system of collaboration with enterprises, targeting their various employment needs and offering flexible and diverse customised services. Industrial and enterprise schools have been established to explore ways of providing continuing education to industrial workers, bringing together the efforts of the trade unions, the OUC, and enterprises. So far, more than 150,000 people have received training in this programme.

Guangdong Branch: we all pursue dreams

“Our mission is to run continuing education for the national benefit, upgrading the industrial workforce and assisting industrial transformation”, said Xiong Jun, president and deputy secretary of the CPC Committee of the Guangzhou Branch. Since 70% of the industrial workers have only received education at or below senior middle school, and 70% are migrant workers, the Guangzhou branch is studying the on-the-job training organized by the Guangzhou and Guangdong trade-union federations, which is based on collaboration, need, and web-based instruction. By September 2019, the number of students in Guangzhou had exceeded 80,000, with over 30 large-scale enterprises, including the Guangzhou Automobile Group, Kingfa Science and Technology, Foxconn (Shenzhen), Yum! Restaurants (Guangdong, and Shenzhen), and the Esquel Group involved, and with 2,000 trade unions in automobile manufacturing, information technology, home-appliance manufacture, textiles and garments, restaurants, and other industries offering support. In 2018, 5,714 industrial workers graduated from the programme.

In Guangzhou, the media delegation visited the Guangzhou Workers’ Education Network Service Centre, China Overseas Property Management, YumChina, the School of Ophthalmology & Optometry, the Esquel Group, and a number of other enterprises.

Liu Xuefeng, one of the students, worked his way all the way up from ordinary restaurant worker to manager at Yum! Restaurants. In this position he could see that he needed more learning, but was too busy with work. The YumChina “Realising Dreams of Further Education” school is a collaboration of the OUC's Guangzhou Branch and Yum! Restaurants (Guangdong), and its relevance to his position and flexible teaching formats appealed to Liu. His career development has been given a more solid foundation through his studies here.

Rong Zizhou, a teacher representative at the OUC (Guangzhou) School of Ophthalmology & Optometry, has been a student, technician and department manager. He has participated in skills training for senior technicians, gaining a vocational-qualification certificate, and in the process moving up from shop assistant to department manager at his workplace. He is also a senior optometrist, senior assessor, and quality supervisor. Rong Zizhou said that the School of Ophthalmology and Optometry has helped him realise his dreams, not only as a worker, but also as a citizen, by helping him obtain Guangzhou household registration.

Student Du Qingmei has been working for the Esquel Group since 2000. When the OUC (Guangzhou) Esquel “Realising Dreams of Further Education” school opened, she enrolled in the Business Administration (production-operations and management orientation) junior-college programme. The result was an immediate promotion, and her salary and benefits have increased significantly.

The collaboration of the university with enterprises and trade unions has involved not just training but also enrollment assistance, teacher support, academic-affairs management, and economic assistance to learners, helping workers attend classes while still working.

Fujian Branch: the university as part of society

In January 2017, Fujian Radio and TV University (RTVU), the Fujian Provincial Department of Education, and the Fujian Federation of Trade Unions established a “Realising Dreams of Further Education” collaboration. This branch (aka Fujian RTVU) believes in making the university relevant to society, and has spread continuing education throughout Fujian. President Wu Guorong has stated that the university is an essential part of higher education in Fujian Province and the mainstay of modern distance education. 26,283 students benefited from the programme in Fujian in 2017 and 2018, and it is estimated that there will be more than 30,000 beneficiaries of it there by spring of the 2019-2020 school year.

In Fujian, the media delegation visited Quanzhou Sanxing Electric, Fujian Wanlong Diamond Tools, Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), the Dejing Group, and other companies.

Mei Shuangqun, a student who works for CATL, told China Education Network Television, “The OUC, Quanzhou Federation of Trade Unions, and CATL have helped me realise my dream of attending university. I have gained a junior-college diploma without having to pay, and become an official staff member of the enterprise, with my own room. I feel very happy.”

Student Chen Haiwei has spent over 20 years working for Sanxing Electric. He is a diligent student and hard worker. He has been named an “excellent national migrant worker”, and knows that new technology requires trained workers. This is why he signed up for Mechanical Manufacture and Automation at Quanzhou RTVU in March 2019, realising his dream of attending university through the programme. He hopes to make technological innovations of his own, and contribute to society through what he has learned.

“Realising Dreams of Further Education” has helped industrial workers, according to the reporters.

Industrial and enterprise schools are working with the new programme to enhance the educations of migrant workers. All the members of the delegation said the interviews showed that the OUC was living up to its mandate of meeting the needs of the broader community.

Reporter Gan Xi of Workers’ Daily pointed out that the programme not only enhances the capabilities of the industrial workforce but also the lives of the workers within it.

Reporter Wang Hao of China Youth Daily spoke with amazement of the continuing education pioneered by the OUC branches in Guangzhou and Fujian, its effectiveness in training workers, and the appreciation of the workers for this opportunity. As the programme advances, and education is made accessible to more and more low-income people, poverty will be reduced nationwide, and industrial workers will be able to attend university while still working.

Reporter Yan Jingzhen of said that the reporters were able to learn about the real needs of industrial by conducting interviews in manufacturing enterprises in Guangdong and Fujian. The programme offers learning opportunities to industrial workers from rural areas - a praiseworthy ambition and achievement.

Xue Jiayi of E-Learning magazine said: “We are delighted that “Realising Dreams of Further Education” is helping more employees to attain management positions; delighted that it is enabling them to receive training and assist their employers; and delighted that the OUC is serving economic and social development and promoting equal access to education through this programme.”

Dreams built by the state, supported by schools, and realised by students

OUC vice president Lin Yu indicated at the closing meeting that the “OUC Journey”, meant to realise the OUC’s social responsibility, will continue. “Realising Dreams of Further Education” shows that the OUC “remains true to its original aspiration” of focusing on the countryside, and especially remote and ethnic-minority areas. The OUC will, as always, strive earnestly to do its best and follow the lead of the Party Central Committee, the State Council and the Ministry of Education. New requirements for education were put forward at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Open education, including “Realising Dreams of Further Education”, is facing new opportunities and challenges, and the OUC will provide its students with easy, suitable, superior and flexible higher continuing education.

The dreams are built by national policies, supported by the educational practices of universities, and realised by the students through their hard work. The OUC will continue to advance “Realising Dreams of Further Education” in order to continue to build the ability of industrial workers to innovate and to learn.

Lin Yu being interviewed

A media-delegation interview
at the Guangzhou Workers’ Education Network Service Centre

The media delegation at China Overseas Property Management

A media-delegation interview at Esquel Group

A media-delegation interview at Quanzhou Sanxing Electric of Fujian

The media delegation in a meeting at Dejing Group

 Written by Ma Peizi and Chen Siming, and photographed by Zhuge Huanyu, OUC