UNESCO Shanghai institute chance for education reform

chinadaily.com.cn Updated:2023-11-17


A panoramic view of the Pudong New Area, where China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone is located. [Photo/China Daily]

The 42nd Session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris adopted a resolution to establish the UNESCO International Institute for STEM Education in Shanghai. This marks the establishment of the first Category 1 UNESCO institute outside Europe and the United States.

This not only affirms the progress China has made in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, but also serves as a strong push for China to strengthen science education in primary and secondary schools.

China's traditional education system attaches more importance to students acquiring knowledge and getting higher scores in exams, while STEM education attaches more importance to students' literacy, personality and career education. The establishment of the UNESCO IISTEM in Shanghai shows that Shanghai is at the forefront in promoting quality, personality and career education in China.

China put forward the concept of quality education way back in the 1980s, but the country's basic education still has an exam-oriented, utilitarian and shortsighted approach. In recent years, Shanghai has launched projects to improve young people's scientific and technological literacy. To inculcate a scientific bent of mind, 140 workstations were set up across high schools, enrolling 4,200 students. Shanghai also created online and offline scientific learning spaces for teenagers.

Shanghai attaches greater importance to the cultivation of students' quality of comprehension through a system that attaches importance to students' quality education.

Chinese students won many gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad, but none of them won the Fields Medal, the highest award in mathematics. This has spurred the country to carry out STEM education and focus more on cultivating students' interests in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.

China is trying hard to bring in educational reforms by breaking the scores-based model and paying more attention to the cultivation of students' personality and interests. The advancement of STEM education in China is in tune with the advancement of the country's ongoing educational reform. To promote the development of STEM education, China needs education reforms.

The establishment of the UNESCO IISTEM in Shanghai offers a great opportunity for China to promote students' literacy, personality and career education, a system through which China can increase exchanges with other countries and improve the quality of its education system as a whole so that every person can enjoy fair and quality education.