Thousands of Chinese wrote to the Ministry of Education in the past month to offer advice on the education plans for the next decade, according to a ministry official on Friday.
The Ministry of Education received about 1.1 million pieces of proposals in the past month, said Tian Huisheng, said a ministry official in charge of processing the public opinions.
People sent e-mails, letters and left posts on the ministry's website since the draft of the long-term plan on education reform and development was announced to solicit public opinions on January 7.
The plan will be the country's first education development plan in the 21st century. It will include major guidelines and policies about education before 2020.
People from various backgrounds wrote to the ministry, including teenage students, retired teachers and pedagogy experts, said Han Jin, director of the education development planning division under the ministry in charge of drafting the plan. "The ministry has never ever received so many proposals."
Han recalled a letter from a 91-year-old retired teacher. He suggested the schools to improve training on students' handwriting as more and more young people are using computers.
"The proposals were about a wide range of topics but many focused on the biggest challenges in today's education service," Tian said.
Based on the proposals, the ministry made a list of top 20 problems people cared most about education service.
The top ten problems were: How to improve the number and quality of teachers in rural areas; how to realize quality education; how to reform the administration of educational institutions; how to reform the enrollment exams of all levels; how to improve preschool education; how to reduce the homework of primary and middle school students; how to fully implement the nine-year compulsory education program; how to reform higher education; how to improve the education service to rural residents and children of migrant workers; and to enable people to enjoy equal access to education.
"We will not leave out any valuable proposals. A team made up of dozens of education experts were processing the proposals round the clock," Tian said.
Education has long been one of the most talked about and controversial social problems among Chinese.
A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics issued in early 2008 showed that education was the fourth most important issue to the Chinese people, following health care service, social morality and social security.
"Education is relevant to every citizen. Students are from different backgrounds and interest groups. That's why an education development plan must be discussed widely in the society to reach a common understanding," said Prof. Yang Dongping, a pedagogy expert with the Beijing Institute of Technology.
The agenda of the public education policy should be set through such discussions, he said.
"We hope more people continue offering their ideas about the top 20 problems we announced today, especially practical proposals," Han said.
The proceeding to solicit public opinions will end by the end of this month. --(Xinhua) Updated: 2009-02-07 11:51