It’s not enough to question if China is on the verge of leapfrogging the world in education. Is China poised to leapfrog the world in the knowledge economy, or are they simply catching up? Perhaps the knowledge economy isn’t what matters, but the emerging innovation economy does. For the time being, however, consider China’s advances in the knowledge realm:
- As Karl Fisch astutely points out, there are more Chinese honor students than the United States has students. China outnumbers all other nations in terms of talent potential.
- Adoption of handheld/mobile learning devices (m-learning) in schools: See our comments on this form of “legalized cheating” in the classroom.
- Thousands of units of software and courseware for m-learning devices are being developed rapidly using new Chinese cultural and thought models. Much of the software is designed for the two learning devices previously reviewed at Education Futures.
- Chinese are eager to dispense with Confucian education traditions. The Chinese education system is opening itself to the rest of the world to learn global “best practices” and adopt them on a mass scale.
- Western companies are looking to outsource their creative work to China, creating ripe conditions for Chinese education to leapfrog toward the production of creative workers.
- Similarly, China is the new global favorite for R&D spending among global businesses. This will require the rapid transformation of Chinese education and the development of knowledge workers to meet market demands.
- There is no sign of a significant cooling down in China’s rate of change in the near future. Despite the central government’s best efforts, it is unable to control or adequately measure the amount of economic growth, infrastructure development, or social change.
- China is rapidly adopting open source development philosophies. In addition to developing indigenous Linux flavors to meet local needs, the nation is the top participant in the OpenCourseWare consortium.
- Chinese leaders understand that education is the foundation for the nation’s future economic success: They are willing to reorient education to meet future needs.
- The “brain drain” is transforming into a “brain bank.” Returning overseas students are starting new enterprises and ventures; and, the government is recruiting foreign talent to fill in gaps as it moves into the knowledge economy and knowledge society.
What is needed for China to stop playing “catch up” in the knowledge economy to ascending to a position of leadership in an innovation-based world?