Thirty years of school reform in China

Sanford Mason, Charlotte (2013). On the anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s “Three Fors”: thirty years of school reform in China. (Occasional Papers on Asia 3). Boston: Boston University, Center for the Study of Asia, December 2013. 12 p. Retrieved 28 January, 2014, from

In September 2013, China celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s “Three Fors,” a document that launched educational reform in China. The document states, “Education is/should be for modernization, for the world, and for the future.”  What made it such a revolutionary, inspirational, and visionary declaration is the broad interpretation of its stated ideas by China’s educators. During the celebration teachers and officials expressed pride in the progress inspired by Deng Xiaoping, confidence that they will solve ongoing problems, and faith in the “Chinese dream” of an ever-brighter future. Despite the simplicity of Deng’s words in the “Three Fors,” his successors’ broad interpretation of it has set an ambitious course for continued school reform in China. In its sights, not yet achieved, perhaps to be articulated at a fortieth anniversary of the “Three Fors,” are universal K-12 education, including special education, and improved access to quality education for children of migrant workers, minorities, and the rural poor. Looking at the distance traveled in a mere thirty years, it is clear that education in China shows remarkable momentum, achievement, resilience, and promise, its goals aligned with those of other world powers.

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Cite this blog post
Monique Abud (2014, January 30). Thirty years of school reform in China. URBACHINA. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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