Art Education in China

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Art Education China has the tradition of valuing art education in educational institutions. The third National Conference on Education since China adopted the policy of reform and open-up has once again included students' development in art into the national guidelines for education. In recent years, rapid progress has been achieved in art education in regular educational institutions. A scientific administrative system over art education has been formed covering all levels of the country. A series of guiding documents concerning art education has been issued. The teaching structure of art education, inter-related between all stages from primary school, junior and senior secondary school to university, has taken an initial shape.

In 1986, Ministry of Education officially set up in its organizational structure Division of Art Education responsible for art education in educational institutions. In 1989, after institutional adjustment, Department of Social Sciences Research and Art Education was set up. In 1993, for the purpose of further regulating and straightening out the administrative system and exercising a more effective unified administration over art education, the Ministry set up the Department of Physical, Health and Art Education, Meanwhile, administrative unit was established accordingly in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. At present, in all provincial education commissions of the country, there is a special unit and full-time staff responsible for art education. In the majority of provinces, municipalities or autonomous regions, provision of staff and research staff in music and fine arts has also been accomplished at the prefecture of city level. An administrative network of art education has taken an initial shape in the country. In 1985, the Art Education Committee of the State Education Commission was also established, as a high-level consultative organization. It consists of well-known scholars and experts in art circles, and outstanding teachers of art education within the country. Education administration at provincial level has also set up its local art education committee.

In order to further strengthen scientific, institutional and regulatory administration over art education, Ministry of Education promulgated a series of guiding documents. In 1987, it worked out the first document on art education, namely the National Overall Program for Art Education in Schools 1989-2000, which was officially promulgated in 1989. Based on the Program, in 1992, it issued another document called "National System of Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluation on Art Education in Schools" for trial. In 1988, it issued the "Opinions on Popularization of Art Education in regular Institutions of Higher Education". In 1989, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture jointly formulated and promulgated the "Opinions on Strengthening Art Education for Children and Teenagers". In 1995, it worked out the "Opinions on Development and Reform of Teacher Training for Art Education in the Country". All these documents have set the objectives and laid down the theoretical basis for a healthy development of art education in China.

Art education constitutes an important component of teaching in primary and secondary schools. All previous teaching programs for schools have included the courses of music and fine art with singing, musical knowledge and appreciation, painting, arts and crafts, appreciation of fine arts as their contents. As fixed in the teaching programs, all six grades in primary schools should have two class hours per week for music and fine arts respectively, and junior secondary schools one hour respectively. In 1994, the Ministry issued a notification, requesting one class hour for the course of arts appreciation in the first two grades of regular senior secondary schools starting from autumn of 1994. Hence, it placed an end to the history of no art course in senior secondary schools in the country. In addition, the latest teaching programs has included extra-curriculum activities into regular courses, named Activity course. As a major component, extra-curriculum art activities have consequently occupied an important position in art education in schools. Further development in formulation of syllabi for art courses in schools has facilitated rapid progress in development of teaching materials. At present, in addition to the national textbooks provided by the Ministry, local teaching materials for music and fine arts in schools have been compiled with refined style, substantial contents, comprehensive system and their respective features, in accordance with the spirit of "diversified textbooks for one syllabus", and with the teaching practice, and cultural and art traditions in their respective localities. Based on statistics, there are more than 70 sets of teaching materials of this category in the whole country. As Extra-curriculum activities, the majority of schools has established all kinds of interest groups of art, students' art societies, and organizes regular school art festivals. Most provinces, cities, prefectures and counties also organize accordingly students' troupe of art and students' art festivels.

Art education in regular institutions of higher learning has witnessed much headway in recent years. A system of art education has basically formed in institutions of higher learning with Chinese characteristics. In 1996, the Ministry of Education issued "Opinions on Promoting Art Education in Institutions of Higher Learning". Many institutions have established and strengthened teaching and administrative setup for art education such as research office for art teaching and department of art education. In most cases, this type of setup is under direct leadership of general administration of the institutions and the president or a vice president is concurrently the head. Offering of art courses as selective or even compulsory is an important measure adopted. In many institutions, selective art courses are included into their teaching programs and credits are counted. Related courses amount to dozens, touching upon aesthetics, theory of literature and art, music, fine arts, dramas, dancing, film and TV programs, calligraphy, photography and so on. Another important measure is to organize varied and interesting lectures on art. These lectures are of wide-ranging coverage in contents. The lecturers are in most cases experts of great attainment in art within the institution or famous artist outside. Selective art courses and lectures on art are well received by students. Other courses are hard to rival with them in terms of numbers of students selecting the courses and students' enthusiasm in attending the lectures. Every institution has its art societies and activities. This fully expresses the flourishing development of art education in regular institutions of higher learning. Nowadays, all institutions have established a variety of students, art societies and interest groups. Organized and motivated by these societies, art activities are carried out vividly and dramatically, which have not only improved students' attainment in art appreciation and creation, but also strengthened exchange and linkage among institutions and between institutions and the society.

The achievements of art education acquired by regular institutions of education at all levels can not be separated from development of art teachers' training, which has guaranteed provision of needed teachers. Since the adoption of the policies of reform and open up, rapid enlargement has been withessed in teacher training programs for art education in the country. Up to now, there are over 160 institutions of higher learning that offer disciplines of music education and education of fine arts, including 180 disciplines of music education and 200 disciplines of fine arts. Full-time teacher training institutions for art education has a student body of over 20,000. The levels and forms of teacher training programs for art education tend to be more rationalized and better from day to day. Many institutions have set up correspondence and night schools, and undertaken to organize self-study examinations for adults in music education and education of fine arts. In 1989, the regular teacher training college officially set up disciplines of music education and education of fine arts.At secondary level, there are 8 teacher training schools of art education in the country, with a student population of over 2, 000. some 200 regular secondary teacher training schools have also set up over 1,000 classes of music education and education of fine arts or intensified classes with a national total of graduates of more than 30,000 each year. All general teacher training schools also attach great importance to art education of students. While efforts are made to guarantee that all students accomplish with satisfactory results study of stipulated compulsory courses on music and fine arts, attention is also paid to strengthen teaching of music and fine arts as selective courses. The reforms in teacher training programs of art education and teaching of art courses have made relatively rationalized adjustments in the distribution of teacher training programs, in their levels, sizes and structures, and have also further clarified the objectives and effectively promoted establishment of a scientific teaching system.

In recent years, research in art education has also made remarkable achievements in general institutions of education. A research system has taken shape progressively, consisting of national, local and community organization, which are both independent and inter-linked. International exchanges are also very active in art education. Through diversified channels, exchanges and co-operative programs have been conducted successively with countries such as USA, Germany, Russia, Austria, Japan, Sweden, Italy, France an DPRK, China has participated in or organized many international exchange activities in art education. All these fruitful international programs have laid down a sound foundation for art education in China to head for the world.