delivered By Dr. Lo Chia Lun
Chancellor of National Central University at the meeting of the Nanking Rotary Club, (Dec. 6, 1934)
When you asked me, a man in educational work, to speak, I venture to guess that perhaps you would like to test my limited knowledge and information in the Chinese education field. Therefore, I beg leave to bore you for a few minutes on the present educational tendencies in China.
Of course, the most rudimentary education is elementary education. I remember when I was young, I was still required to recite and to commit to memory the Thirteen Classics, word by word. And if I failed to do so, the bamboo in the hand of the teacher was making a frightening noise on his desk. Although my teacher gave me a few lessons in geography, history, etc., yet all those subjects were condensed in rhythmic verses which were also to be memorised. Now look at the boys and girls in the grade schools, and see what interesting things they are learning, and how eagerly they are participating in various activities. You will realise what a liberation there has been in Chinese educational thought and educational method. In 1912, only 2,793,633 boys and girls were entitled to enjoy this kind of privilege. But in 1932, 11,667,888 boys and girls shared the fruits of this great educational emancipation. I wish to point out that this emancipation has been brought about not only by the introduction of the Western educational method, but also by the literary renaissance, which has made the transmission of knowledge through "Pei Hua," or the spoken language, possible.
As to secondary education, no little progress has been gained. The curriculum has been more scientifically organized, the teaching staff more carefully selected, instruction better conducted. The Ministry of Education has been constantly trying to raise the high schools throughout China to a prescribed standard, and has achieved good results. The introduction of Boy Scouts education, and the emphasis on athletics have improved the physique of boys and girls. The joint examination system, or, That is to say, the system which empowered the educational bureaux of the different provinces arid municipalities to give the graduation examination to all qualified candidates of high schools collectively, has had the effect of raising the standard of the aforesaid schools.
In 1912, there were only 52,100 mgh school students, but in 1931, the number increased to 403,134. Of course there are various criticisms of secondary education. The most serious criticism is that many Of the high school graduates, if they cannot afford to enter college, are not qualified to be admitted in college, cannot find a suitable profession, as they are not so trained as to be fit for many kinds of work. But this criticism can be easily met, if one does not fail to notice the different ramifications of secondary education, such secondary normal schools, industrial schools, and other kinds of vocational schools. We do not doubt that these schools can be and should be improved, but, besides the improvement, there still exists the problem of the lack of a sufficient number of grade schools, factories, and modernized farms, which can admit those graduates. We hope the advocates of vocational education will see to this problem, as its solution is beyond educational reform itself.
Now, let us turn to higher education, which I may know a little better. In 1912, there were only four universities and 481 students in China. But twenty-two years later, China has 82 universities and colleges, which makes the sum total III—and has 43,519 students, which is almost twenty times more than the number of students in 1912. The proportional increase in the number is surprising if you compare it with that of elementary and secondary schools and students.
But if you consider the number of high school graduates every year, you will not be surprised that this number is a natural consequence ? to meet the existing demand. In 1912, the annual expenses of the four universities were only $755,730, but last year the amount increased to $34,650,000. Of this sum, about &/% million dollars were actually spent for buildings, library, and laboratory equipments, During the two years of my administration of the National Central University, we alone spent about one-half million dollars each year, for the aforesaid appropriations. As you know, many of those universities and colleges were bamboo shoots—nay, some might be mushrooms,—during the years 1920 to 1923. Some of them naturally had a premature birth. But, through the strict enforcement of ministerial regulations promulgated by the Ministry of Education during the last two years, more than twenty of the public and private universities and colleges have already been closed, and the rest of them, which comprise the previous figures, are gradually being lifted up to a better standard.
According to the classification of the Ministry of Education the colleges are divided into two groups, according to the nature of the subjects which they are teaching:— Group A, or Liberal Arts Group, consists of the colleges of literature, law, commerce and education; and Group B, or Science Group, consists of colleges of Natural Science, agriculture, engineering and medicine. In the year 1931, of the sum total of 44,000 students, 74 1/2 per cent, belonged to the group A Colleges, but only 25 1/2 per cent, belong to the Group B Colleges. But during the last two years, the tendency has been shifted. The complete statistics of those years are not immediately available to me. Yet, according to my personal experience, out of the sum total of the successful candidates admitted to the Central University this year, about 70 per cent, belonged to the Group A Colleges. I think this is sufficient indication of the changing tide.
Perhaps the most important thing for a university or a college is the academic atmosphere. Two years ago, you all remember there was great turmoil of students, which effected almost all institutions of higher learning. The academic prospect at that time was very dark. But that darkness disappeared with the storm, since which serenity has prevailed. Both professors and students are enjoying academic tranquillity. They have been working harder and accomplishing better results. No sabotage, no posters, no demonstrations. This was brought about not only by the strict enforcement of discipline, but also by the awakening of the students themselves to the realization that national problems cannot be solved by such a childish method, and that the best way of helping the nation to cope with the unprecedented national crisis is to secure for themselves better education and better preparation. The indefatigability of the professors in their teaching and research work is by no means a small achievement.
In regard to research work, the results are very encouraging. Although Natural Sciences were transplanted on the Chinese intellectual soil not so very long ago, yet now we have several departments, such as geology, physics, psychology, etc., which can be compared with those of leading universities in the West. If you look at the important scientific journals in Europe and America, you will find frequent contributions of Chinese scholars. If you examine the index authoritative scientific references, such as "Handbuch der Chemie" or "Handbuch der Physick," you cannot fail to notice the names of Chinese scientists. Of course, the progress recently made in China in philology, history, archaelogy, and other kinds of Sinological studies, needs no mention. The laudable work of the Academia Sinica is also a great stimulus to the professors in universities and colleges. Its work and that of the university professors, if time be given, will surely bring about still more remarkable fecundity and fruition.
A word perhaps is needed concerning the governmental policy of sending students abroad. During the past two years, the government has adopted a very strict policy in selecting maturer and better prepared students to study in foreign countries by giving them a strictly competitive examination. Between 1932-34, 1197 students were abroad, and they could only get their permit from the Ministry of Education by showing their college graduate's diploma. Those who want to take the examination conducted by the Sino-British Boxer Indemnity Foundation, are required to have two years' experience after graduation from college. The better results of this policy can almost be foretold with certainly.
On October 10 last, Dr. Hu Shih delivered a lecture in Peiping on "Optimism in the Pessimistic Current." The title is prophetic. We educational workers are not satisfied with present conditions. We are badly in reed of reform and improvements. We do want better equipment and more healthful environment. We cannot paint an entirely rosy picture. But we clearly see some buds of roses in the vast field of thorns. We need hard work, patience and Time. Because only hard work, patience and Time will bring a better younger generation to steer Chinese national affairs and to create brighter future for this country of a great old civilisation.
(From the "DIGEST of the SYNODAL COMMISSION" Vol: 7)
- Malaya Catholic Leader, February 2nd, 1935 (1935.pdf pp45)