China is geared to walk that extra mile to woo Indian students. At a fair in a Delhi hotel last weekend, 18 higher education institutions from the Yunnan province put up their stalls, offering incentives like language training on scholarship and promising opportunities in joint science projects between Indian and Chinese universities. China wants to make education a popular choice not only among medical aspirants but also among students of disciplines like engineering, liberal arts, social science and natural science. Luo Chongmin, director general of Yunnan Provincial Department of Education, elaborates (through an interpreter):
Is education suddenly a hot subject in China?
We are paying a lot of attention to education. We are speeding up the process to ensure that education is compulsory at the secondary and higher secondary levels. So far, we have been able to put in place a policy for students to get nine years of compulsory education. The idea is to offer equal opportunities to everyone. We are also carrying out education reforms and trying to globalise our education. This engenders the need to explore student and teacher exchanges with other countries like India. After these reforms, we expect Chinese education to become more open, international and dynamic.
But how do you plan to tackle the daunting factor of language?
We have short-term, medium-term and long-term programmes to teach Chinese to international students. The language training is imperative as some programmes are run only in Chinese, while there are some others taught with bilingual instruction and both Chinese and English are used as mediums of communication.
What’s so special about the Yunnan province?
It is rich in culture and education. There are 61 institutions of higher learning where 10,000 teachers work. At present, 3.5 lakh students undergo different programmes, of which 500 are Indian. Owing to its proximity to India, we hope that the Indian population on campus can increase substantially. It is our belief that in the coming times, the number of Indian students would grow from 500 to 5,000.