On 22 December 1978, educational reform was launched as one of the strategic tasks for the modernization programme and for economic reform in China. The communique of the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee emphasized the importance of strengthening scientific and educational work to meet the needs of modernization. 1 Since that time, educational development has been repeatedly stressed and a series of policies and regulations have been adopted to revive the education system crushed by the anarchic forces of the Cultural Revolution. On 20 October 1984, the Third Plenum of the Twelfth National Congress of the CCP adopted a further major decision on the economic reforms, in which educational development was again stressed as one of the urgent strategic tasks. The decision said
Science, technology and education play very important parts in the development of the domestic economy. With the economic reforms, science and technology systems and the educational system are becomingstrategic tasks which need to be addressed urgently. 2
The Chinese leadership sees the development of science and technology and the development of education as decisive for modernization programmes, and, of these, education is the foundation. 3
In May 1985, the Central Committee held a national conference on education. At this conference, a decision was made to reform the educational structure and to invigorate the educational system at all levels. Deng Xiaoping, in his address to the conference, said the rationale for this reform was that China's overall strength, as well as its economic growth, increasingly depended on the skills of its workers and the quality of its intellectuals.4 He also pointed out that
education should be geared towards modernization, the world and the future. 5 These ideas have become the guiding principles of educational reform.