From April 8th to 12th of 2014, the seminar and training on the operation and management of community education by the MOE Research & Training Centre for Community Education was held in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. More than 40 people from Taiwan Open University, specialists in community education from Communication University of China, and community education workers from 21 units within the Radio and TV University (RTVU) system attended.
Yang Shuyu, Executive Vice Secretary-General of the Lifelong Education Work Committee of Chinese Society of Educational Development Strategy (CSEDS) and Director of the Institute of Higher Education Research at Communication University of China, Tang Xianmei, Life Science Department Professor and Director of the Research Department of Taiwan Open University, Xu Li, Director of the Department of Public Administration at Taiwan Open University, Huang Zhidong, Assistant Professor of the Department of Public Administration, Ding Hucheng, Vice President of Henan RTVU, and Diao Yuanyuan, Vice President of Chengdu Community University (Chengdu RTVU) each delivered special reports. The meeting was hosted by Zhou Yanjun and Xu Ruisen from the MOE Research & Training Centre for Community Education.
Zhou Yanjun introduced recent developments and current progress of the MOE Research & Training Centre for Community Education. He pointed out that, beginning from the establishment of Qingdao Community University by Qingdao RTVU in 2003, the RTVU system has made rapid progress in expanding community education, and since 2010 more than half of all 44 provincial RTVUs have set up guidance centres for community education or taken on the additional role of Community University. RTVUs have been proven to offer advantages in teaching staff, platform, and resources and also gained outstanding achievements as a model of participating in and serving community education.
Tang Xianmei addressed the meeting on the special topic of “Talking About Changes in Community Education in Taiwan - From Top-Down to Bottom-Up”, introduced the origins of community education in Taiwan, the developing situation in community universities and lifelong education, and conducted exchanges in educational philosophy, operating mechanism, curricula planning, pointed out the bottleneck faced by community universities in Taiwan, and options for moving forward in the future.
Huang Zhidong and Xu Liyi considered the recent changes in the objectives pursued in Taiwan for community education. They introduced, for example, the change in the way universities valued students, teachers, departments, social demands, and international trends through the analysis of the changing roles of open universities, and also through satisfaction survey work that universities carried out regularly from “2011 to 2014”; through regular SWOT analysis, universities also designed targeted curricula considering the different characteristics of different segments of society including new migrants, the elderly, and laborers, gaining valuable insight in the construction of curriculum resources, and at the same time set up an incentive mechanism for teachers, and so further enhanced the research level in education.
Diao Yuanyuan introduced the development process, work philosophy, structure, and content of community education in Chengdu, summarizing and intricately dissecting the development model of “valuing operation, admiring management, perfecting service” in Chengdu's community education system. "Valuing operation" comprises the operation philosophy, mechanism, and content, among which the operation mechanism could be summarized as “specialized project operation, local service, international model”. "Admiring management" includes the simplified organizational structure, with experience being applied via “hands-on leadership, effective role delegation, competence, cooperation, and interaction”. "Perfecting service" includes the digital delivery of various types of community education, making education accessible in the home, and three dimensional publicity.
Yang Shuyu reported on the special topic of “Construction of Learning Society and Development of Community University in Our Country”. Through a review of such concepts as the theory of a learning society, construction of learning cities, the development of the community university, and the current situation of community education, the attendees were given a comprehensive overview on the modern state of community education. Especially when covering the theory of a learning society, Yang Shuyu illustrated the five important concepts of “learning society, lifelong education system, service system for lifelong learning, all levels and all kinds of learning organizations, and national education system”. He also used the “World Learning City Construction Conference”, also held in China, as an example, explaining to the audience the principles of a learning society, why to construct learning cities, and the guiding thoughts, principles, and objectives of constructing learning cities, and thoroughly analyzed how community education acted as an important component in lifelong education and the role it plays in the construction of learning cities.
Ding Hucheng introduced progress made in community education since Henan set up the Guidance Centre for Community Education. Although community education in Henan has only recently begun, leaders from all levels of government have placed great emphasis on it, and as the main force behind the promotion of community education in the province, while at the same time continuing to more deeply research and investigate city-oriented community education, RTVU has done its utmost to promote community education work in rural areas, even directing valuable resources to such communities through the construction of ICT infrastructure.
This training showcased the integration of theory and practice. Xu Ruisen illustrated the meaning and purpose of the SWOT model, and utilizing the practical experience of the OUC Training Centre's international trainers as an example, shared the analysis report about SWOT by the OUC (CCRTVU) Training Centre. She said that starting in 2003, the RTVU’s community education has continued to make progress as it reaches a new stage in 2013. Although problems and difficulties of all types were encountered in the process of development, the strategic objective of energetically developing community education in cities and rural areas of China was clear, and all should have confidence and understand fully the strength, weakness, threats, and opportunities of the RTVU in participating in and serving community education, determining strategic goals, strategic positioning, and promoting the development of community education.
Representatives inspected Zhengzhou Community University (Zhengzhou RTVU) during the meeting, visiting the one-stop service centre of Zhengzhou Community University, coming to a better understanding of how Zhengzhou RTVU carries out community education, thus fostering a deep exchange focused on community education work.
This training focused on special research and discussions related to the establishment, project development, and operation of community education systems. The attendees appreciated the differences between this activity and previous ones, for example: the Taiwanese specialists were of the highest level, the number of participants was moderate, leading to the easy interchange of ideas, the integration of theory with practice, classroom instruction combined with site visits, etc. At the same time, the attendees expressed the hope that future activities will include reports, not only from specialists and scholars, but also the analysis of grassroots cases, so as to enhance the application of theory and practical formulas for success, which will enhance the capacity of practitioners and lead to even more success in the field.
By Meng Jia, the MOE Research & Training Centre for Community Education