Education Action Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative
Issued by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China
The “Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” initiative (hereinafter “the Belt and Road Initiative”) affords immense opportunities for greater openness, further exchanges, and deeper integration in education in the regions and countries along the routes. Increased cooperation and joint action by the Belt and Road countries in education are an important part of what the Belt and Road Initiative aims to achieve, and in turn, can provide the talent needed to make the Initiative a success. China is ready to work with the countries along the routes to expand people-to-people exchanges, strengthen cooperation in the cultivation of talent, and together create a bright future for education in the region.
I. Mission of Education
Education is vital to the strength of a country, the prosperity of a nation and the happiness of a people. It has a fundamental and guiding role to play in the Belt and Road Initiative. Educational exchange can serve as a bridge to closer people-to-people ties, whereas the cultivation of talent can buttress the efforts of these countries toward policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure, unimpeded trade, and financial integration along the routes. The countries along the routes share a closely interdependent bond and educational exchange between these countries goes back a long way, therefore the prospect of educational cooperation is wide and bright. The joining of hands in the development of education to build the Belt and Road together is a great endeavor which will benefit all peoples along the routes.
China will consistently stick to its open policy in education and deeply integrate with the global trends in educational reform and development. Promoting a common prosperity of education in the countries along the routes will not only strengthen win-win cooperation with these countries, but also provide strong stimulus to domestic reform and development in education. China is willing to shoulder as many responsibilities and honour as many commitments as possible, and to make a greater contribution to the development of education in the region.
II. Vision for Cooperation
The countries along the routes will work together to deepen mutual understanding, expand openness, strengthen cooperation, learn from each other, to pursue common interests, face our shared future, shoulder common responsibilities, and work concertedly to build a Belt and Road educational community. We will strive for equal, inclusive, mutually beneficial, and dynamic cooperation in education. To promote the development of education in the region and produce wide-ranging support for the Belt and Road Initiative, we will work together in an endeavor to:
1. Promote Closer People-to-People Ties. We will broaden, elevate, and deepen people-to-people exchanges and promote ever-stronger understanding and bonds between the peoples along the routes.
2. Cultivate Supporting Talent. We will spare no effort in cultivating the much-needed talent for the Belt and Road Initiative to support policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, and financial integration among the Belt and Road countries.
3. Achieve Common Development. We will join hands in deepening educational cooperation and promoting mutual learning to boost the development of education in our countries and improve the overall leverage of the region’s education.
III. Principles for Cooperation
Principle 1: Focusing on Nurturing of the People, Prioritizing People-to-People Exchanges. To cultivate the talent much needed for the Belt and Road Initiative, we should strengthen cooperation in nurturing of the people and improve the essential competencies of the population throughout the region. We should prioritize people-to-people exchanges and put in place such regional mechanisms that aiming at building a bridge for closer people-to-people ties across the region.
Principle 2: Combining Government Guidance with Social Involvement. Governments of the Belt and Road countries should strengthen mutual communication and coordination, combine various resources and steer the integrated development of education. We should give full play to the proactive role of schools, enterprises, and other social actors to promote dynamic cooperation and diverse exchange in education.
Principle 3: Realizing Shared Growth Through Consultation and Collaboration, and Fostering Greater Openness and Cooperation. With a commitment to the principle of achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration, the Belt and Road countries should create greater links and better coordination between their national development plans for education, fostering integration and interaction in the development of education of all countries along the routes.
Principle 4: Promoting Harmony, Inclusiveness, Mutual Benefit and Win-Win Outcomes. We should scale up efforts for dialogue between different civilizations, seeking the best corresponding points in educational development and the greatest common measure in educational cooperation. Our ultimate objective is to realize mutual benefit and complementation in education among all countries along the routes.
IV. Priorities for Cooperation
As each country along the routes has its own distinctive features in education and the whole region in general boasts abundant educational resources, there are great potential for complementation, and vast space for cooperation. China proposes a three-pronged framework of ground-laying, support-building, and forward-thinking actions. Within this framework we propose three main areas of cooperation to speed up the development of education in all Belt and Road countries while catering to each country’s educational objectives, referencing to each other’s experience in educational development, and sharing each other’s best educational resources.
Area 1, we aim to carry out cooperation to improve educational interconnectivity which will include the following 5 elements:
1). Strengthening coordination on education policy. We will carry out joint studies on how to coordinate domestic laws and policies on education among the Belt and Road countries and put in place an information sharing mechanism for education policies. In doing this, we aim to provide advice to the governments of the Belt and Road countries on coordinating our education policies and to offer policy consultation to schools and social actors in the Belt and Road countries on educational cooperation and exchanges. We will redouble efforts to reach bilateral, multilateral, and sub-regional framework agreements for educational cooperation; propose an international instrument on educational cooperation and exchange among the Belt and Road countries; steadily break policy-related bottlenecks in educational cooperation and exchange, seeking to establish more arrangements to have academic credits to be mutually recognized and more dual and joint degrees conferred, with the prospect of working concertedly to build an integrated educational community.
2). Facilitating smooth channels for educational cooperation. We will promote simplification of visa application procedures for each other’s citizens, expand the scope of educational cooperation and exchange, and forge partnerships featuring frequent interactions, abundant cooperation, dynamic exchanges, and deep affinity. We will encourage schools that already enjoy established cooperative relations, or have similar research projects and share common education development goals, to forge sister school partnerships and steadily deepen and broaden their educational cooperation and exchanges. We will hold forums for school principals, rectors and presidents from countries along the routes and promote pragmatic cooperation of our educational institutions at different levels and in different disciplines. We will support higher-education institutions, based on their respective strengths in specific fields, in establishing joint laboratories (or research centers) and international technology transfer centers with their counterparts in the Belt and Road countries, in a bid to work together to respond to the enormous challenges and opportunities faced by our countries in economic development, resource utilization, ecological preservation, and so on. We will establish academic exchange platforms for the Belt and Road countries, paving the way for our experts, researchers, and students to undertake collaborative research and academic exchanges. We will work to promote sharing of quality educational resources among the Belt and Road countries.
3). Breaking language barriers between the Belt and Road countries. We will explore how to build coordination mechanisms for breaking language barriers to jointly develop open language courses, and gradually incorporate courses on our different languages into the curricula of each Belt and Road country. We will expand inter-governmental language exchange programs and work together to cultivate, and help each other to cultivate, high-level language experts. We will give full play to the strengths of universities focusing on foreign studies and foreign languages in training strong linguists, and promote the development of multilingual teaching staff for elementary and secondary education as well as foreign language education. We will expand the number of students sent overseas with government scholarships for language training, and encourage institutions from the Belt and Road countries to work in partnership with Chinese institutions to establish programs that teach their own languages in China. We will support the engagement of more social actors in establishing Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms, and scale up efforts to train both full-time Mandarin teachers and volunteer Mandarin teachers to meet the demand from the Belt and Road countries for Mandarin language training.
4). Fostering closer people-to-people ties. We will encourage researchers from the countries along the routes to carry out independent and joint research on topics related to China, helping the people of their countries to gain a deeper understanding of China’s education and culture, as well as its development model and national policies. We will set up research centers for specific countries and areas and work with counterparts from target countries to carry out research in fields such as economics, politics, education, and culture. We will gradually incorporate international understanding education and Silk Road cultural heritage protection into the curricula of countries along the routes in a bid to deepen the understanding of our youth about cultures in the region. For that matter, we will also boost implementation of youth exchange programs along the Silk Road, giving particular attention to activities and instruments such as internships, volunteer service, cultural experiences, sporting events, innovation and business startups, new media and social media.
5). Promoting articulation of criteria for mutual recognition of academic credentials. We will strive for the implementation of the UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Regional Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education, support UNESCO’s efforts to build a global system for mutual recognition of qualifications, and promote mutual recognition of academic credentials in the region, both bilateral and multilateral. We will encourage countries in the region to improve their education quality assurance systems and academic accreditation mechanisms, and to expedite the development of their national qualifications framework. We will help learners from our different countries to transfer in different types of education or at different stages in their education, and promote the development of life-long learning societies. We will work to plan together and build together a regional qualifications framework for vocational and technical education and steadily unify employment standards across the region. We will explore the establishment of common standards for teachers’ professional development among the Belt and Road countries, delivering greater mobility for teachers within the region.
Area 2, we will deepen cooperation on cultivation and training of talent which will include implementation of the following 4 programs:
1). Silk Road Two-Way Student Exchange Enhancement Program. The Chinese government will set up the Silk Road Scholarship, aimed at training leading talent and technicians for countries along the routes. China will, attending to every aspect, improve the quality of education received by international students in China and work to turn China into a popular destination for students from the Belt and Road countries. Heading up efforts with national scholarships for study abroad, we will encourage more Chinese students to study in the Belt and Road countries. China will place equal importance on sending students overseas and receiving international students, equal importance on funding students to study overseas and encouraging self-sponsored overseas studies, equal importance on increasing the number of international students and improving the quality of education offered to them, equal importance on law-based management of the students and improving services to them, as well as equal importance on cultivating the talent and giving full play to their roles. China will improve its comprehensive management and service system for outbound and inbound students to ensure their safety, health, and success during their time overseas or in China.
2). Silk Road Co-Operation in Running Educational Institutions and Programs Enhancement Program. Chinese universities in a position to run educational institutions and programs overseas must concentrate on their strong disciplinary fields, choose the right entry points for cooperation, conduct reliable feasibility surveys, and put in place systems and models for education and training, management and operations, service to the locality, and public relations with the community and the host countries. This will all be with a view to seeing these educational endeavours operate effectively and perform well in the localities. We will encourage higher education institutions as well as vocational and technical colleges to cooperate with industries and business entities to achieve industry-education integration in which governments in the Belt and Road countries should play a guiding role, while actors in the education sector should play a leading role. We will encourage China’s top vocational and technical institutions to develop an overseas presence through collaboration with Chinese high-speed railroad and telecommunication companies, to explore different models of cooperation in running educational institutions and programs overseas, including establishment of vocational colleges, technical colleges and training centers, and joint development of educational resources and programs. Such multi-layered cooperation in vocational and technical education and training will help to cultivate the different kinds of talent that are much needed by the Belt and Road countries. Countries along the routes should all mobilize our resources and actively promote practical cooperation with each other in employment training for young people as well as in other areas of common concern. We call for cooperation among the Belt and Road countries in running top-level educational institutions and programs.
3). Silk Road Teacher Training Enhancement Program. Through the Silk Road teacher training programs, we aim to strengthen exchanges on the best practices to improve the quality of education in the region. We will encourage teacher exchanges, and give impetus to exchange visits for school principal, and refresher courses and study tours for teaching and management staff in the region. Through this, the Belt and Road countries can learn about the region’s best education models in education from each other. We will facilitate the exportation of high-quality teaching equipment, courseware, and full-package teaching solutions from countries along the routes and make forward strides in teacher training with the ultimate objective of achieving equitable distribution of educational resources and balanced development of education among the Belt and Road countries.
4). Silk Road Joint Education and Training Enhancement Program. We will promote academic exchanges and visits among the Belt and Road countries. We earnestly encourage universities in the region to carry out joint education and training programs needed to meet the urgent development demands of the Belt and Road countries, in fields such as languages, transportation, architecture, medical science, energy, environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, bio-sciences, marine sciences, ecological preservation, and cultural heritage protection. In this, we aim to facilitate the sharing of educational resources among university alliances and between universities with bilateral relations.
Area 3, we will jointly set up concrete mechanisms of cooperation which include the following 4 elements:
1). Strengthening high-level consultations on people-to-people exchanges. Through high-level consultations on people-to-people exchange between the Belt and Road countries, both bilateral and multilateral, we will collectively formulate a master blueprint for educational cooperation and exchange in the region. We will coordinate and encourage the establishment by the Belt and Road countries of bilateral or multilateral mechanisms to promote educational cooperation, ensure the quality of education, and oversee the functioning of regional cross-border education markets, so as to coordinate and promote joint action for education in the Belt and Road region.
2). Giving full play to platforms of international cooperation. To explore new space for educational cooperation among the Belt and Road countries, we will give play to existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms for cooperation in the region, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the East Asia Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, and the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. By working with international organizations like the UNESCO, we will give impetus to the establishment of coordination mechanisms among the Belt and Road countries to realize global educational development goals. To further pragmatic educational cooperation and exchanges among the Belt and Road countries, we will fully tap into those platforms already in place, including the China-ASEAN Educational Cooperation Week, the China-Japan-Korea Committee for Promoting Exchange and Cooperation among Universities, the China-Arab States University Presidents Forum, the China-Africa Universities 20+20 Cooperation Program, the Forum for Chinese and Japanese University Presidents, the Sino-Korean University Presidents’ Forum, and the Sino-Russian University Association. We will support educational institutions within the same region with established cooperative relations and similar disciplinary concentration to form alliances and continue to expand and extend platforms for cooperation in education.
3). Implementing the “Silk Road Education Assistance Program.” Education assistance is an important component of our joint action for education in the Belt and Road region. We will gradually scale up educational assistance, focusing on investing in the people, assisting the people, and benefitting the people. We will give play to the important role of education assistance in “South-South Cooperation,” increasing the level of support that goes to countries along the routes, particularly the least-developed countries along the routes. By coordinating governmental and nongovernmental educational resources as well as those of the education system, we will educate and train teachers, scholars, and technicians with different specializations for countries in the region. We will actively undertake to provide education assistance packages that incorporate high-quality teaching equipment, teaching schemes, and teacher training. More will be done to strengthen China’s education and training centers and the 10 education assistance bases supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education. We encourage that each country establishes mechanisms for diversified fundraising with a leading role by the governments and active involvement of social actors. By combining government funding, private financing, and public donations, we aim to broaden the funding sources for education, enlarge the scope of education assistance, and achieve shared development in education.
4). Implementing the “Silk Road Golden Camel & Golden Sail Awards Program.”Any individual, team, or organization from the international community that has made an outstanding contribution to promoting educational cooperation and exchange between or among the Belt and Road countries, or that has played an important role in achieving more equitable development of education in the region, is eligible to receive these awards.
V. Chinese Education in Action
China calls for an educational community built by countries along the routes to pool our efforts on the Belt and Road Initiative. This first of all requires that China’s education sector and actors from different sectors of Chinese society play a proactive and exemplary role.
1. We should strengthen coordination in the implementation process. We will strengthen overall planning and coordination between different ministries, provinces and cities across China to engage in educational cooperation and exchanges with the Belt and Road countries in an orderly manner. China will improve the governing institution of its education, amend relevant laws and regulations, and proceed with comprehensive educational reform, which will improve its ability to implement smoothly and effectively the Education Action Plan for the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese Ministry of Education will work closely with other entities like the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and national industrial and trade organizations, with a view to the general development of the Belt and Road Initiative, to identify important areas for cooperation and put safeguarding mechanisms for operation in place to ensure successful implementation. This will help to ensure smoother channels for international cooperation and exchange in education and to link up with the strategic plans of the Belt and Road countries for the development of education.
2. Different provinces and cities are to have their own focus in moving forward. Prominence will be given to the role of provinces and cities as main actors, the mainstay, and the implementers of the Belt and Road Initiative. Provinces and cities across China are required to use the advantages of their respective geographical position and their distinctive local features as they move quickly to formulate local plans to see that education and the economy go global hand in hand. At the same time, they must closely align their own plans with the national master plan. We encourage local governments in China to steadily establish “friendship province” or “sister city” relationships with their counterparts in countries along the routes, and expect them to effectively promote substantive people-to-people exchanges. Provinces and cities should draw on their own strengths to mobilize resources for establishing domestic and overseas platforms, help universities and businesses to complement each other’s strengths, and ensure positive cooperation through which development benefits are shared. Provinces and cities should introduce a range of measures to support and guide local education systems to cooperate with their counterparts in the Belt and Road countries. With this, provinces and cities across China can elevate themselves into prominent ranks in educational cooperation and exchange with overseas counterparts, and in turn, boost their own educational development.
3. Educational institutions at different levels of the education system should steadily press ahead. Guided by the old Chinese motto that “He who craves for success empathizes with others and helps them to be successful,” Chinese schools and universities should steadily expand cooperation and exchange with their counterparts in the Belt and Road countries. They should take their best educational resources with them as they engage in cooperation and exchange outside China, and select the most valuable educational resources to bring home from other countries, being inclusive and tolerant, and both learning from and teaching others. In this way together we can make our education more internationalized and strengthen our ability to act in service of the common development of the Belt and Road Initiative. China’s elementary and secondary schools should expand inter-school cooperation and exchange with their counterparts in the Belt and Road countries, concentrating on teacher and student exchanges, teacher training and international understanding education. Chinese universities as well as vocational and technical colleges should work on the basis of their own development strategies and local action plans for the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, to carry out various forms of cooperation and exchanges with their counterparts in the Belt and Road countries. Stress should be given to the coordinated development of perfecting the modern institution of university, creating new models for cultivating talent, strengthening the quality of education offered to international students in China, optimizing the performance of overseas educational institutions and programs, and facilitating the growth of businesses and enterprises.
4. Social actors should be encouraged to be more involved. Wider-ranging, deeper-delving and higher-aspiring nongovernmental educational cooperation and exchange will pave the way for more insights, support, solutions, and action from our societies. China will scale up its efforts to foster and promote the development of Chinese nonprofit organizations. With government purchase of services and market-based resource allocation, we will give great support to social organizations and specialist groups that dedicate themselves to the cause of international cooperation and exchange in education, and create an enabling environment for international cooperation led by social actors. We will step up the pace of efforts to facilitate the exportation of teaching equipment and traditional Chinese medical services. We will support enterprises and individuals, working according to the rules of the market and in accordance with the law, to engage in forms of international cooperation like cooperation with foreign partners in running educational institutions and programs, carrying out joint research projects, and providing services to foreign customers. Chinese enterprises should work closely with Chinese education providers in exploring opportunities for cooperation in talent cultivation such as technological innovation and technology transfer. This will help to serve economic development and trade growth for the Belt and Road countries.
5. We will work together to yield tangible benefits of cooperation as soon as possible. Highly flexible and resilient mechanisms for cooperation are needed on the ground. We will jumpstart those cooperative projects that are feasible and have been agreed on by stakeholders. We will set clear and reasonable timetables for the implementation of such projects to ensure that they yield the expected benefits within a short span of time. In 2016, Chinese provinces and cities shall submit their own education action plans for the Belt and Road Initiative in which concrete efforts will be made to steadily promote educational connectivity and cultivation of talent, and to establish mechanisms for cooperation. In 2017, the common education action plan of the Belt and Road countries for the Initiative, which prioritizes cooperation in the afore-mentioned three areas, will be further implemented. Over the next three years, China will send annually 2,500 government-funded students to countries along the routes. Over the next five years, China will set up 10 science and education bases overseas and sponsor 10,000 students from the Belt and Road countries to pursue degrees or get short-term training in China.
VI. Working Together to Create a Bright Future for Education
As an African saying puts it, “He who travels alone travels faster, yet he who travels in company travels farther.” Cooperation and exchange are the main venue for the Belt and Road countries to build an educational community. It is our common aspiration to promote economic and social development and improve the living standards of our peoples through educational cooperation and exchange and by working together to cultivate highly competent talent. It is our shared responsibility to strengthen the pillars of regional peace through educational cooperation and exchange and thereby expanding people-to-people exchanges.
China is ready to work with the Belt and Road countries to set up a diverse range of mechanisms for educational cooperation, based on principles of openness, cooperation, mutual-benefit, and win-win outcomes. We will make specific timetables and roadmaps for further cooperation, introduce flexible cooperative mechanisms, and setting up exemplary cooperation projects. This will help us to meet the development demands of each Belt and Road country while at the same time to achieve common development.
The Ministry of Education of China proposes that we, the Belt and Road countries, channel our energies and enthusiasm into action, scale up efforts to align our strategic plans and coordinate our policies, explore new mechanisms and models for educational cooperation and exchange, further deepen and broaden educational cooperation and exchange, and ensure the quality and effectiveness of all such initiatives. Based on principles of mutual understanding, mutual trust, mutual assistance and mutual learning, we shall join hands to promote the development of education and closer people-to-people ties. With these efforts, we will build an educational community among the Belt and Road countries together and create a new chapter of beautiful life for all humanity.