There’s a ‘debate’ in the NY Times today — “China’s Push for Education” — but it’s really more about China’s push into Higher Education. The reference is to a story published in the Times on the 16th of January that described the huge government investments into the sector
China is making a $250 billion-a-year investment in what economists call human capital. Just as the United States helped build a white-collar middle class in the late 1940s and early 1950s by using the G.I. Bill to help educate millions of World War II veterans, the Chinese government is using large subsidies to educate tens of millions of young people as they move from farms to cities.
The article spends a lot of space making the point that the graduates are likely to have poor chances in the increasingly service-oriented economy of the US (why get a degree in China to work as a Wal-Mart greeter?) but a more interesting question is what this means for higher education, which is increasingly dependent on tuition money, with international students being the most lucrative group. In the short run the Chinese emphasis seems to be on Undergraduate (and most students who come to the US do so for graduate studies) — and of course many Chinese students are from Taiwan — but still it may suggest the beginnings of a counter-movement against US educational hegemony.