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An Initiative of Using Suzhi Education for “素质教育” in English

  Since 1980s, Suzhi and Suzhi education gradually became household and widely used terms in China to emphasize the cultivation of Chinese cultural heritage and moral values. In mid-1990s, advocated by the Ministry of Education of China, culture-oriented quality education as a starting point of Suzhi education was rapidly implemented in Chinese colleges and universities, triggering deep and comprehensive changes in China’s higher education sector.

 

  In international communication, “素质教育” was once translated into quality education in English, while “文化素质教育” was translated into cultural quality education or quality-oriented education. Sometimes, Western terms like general education or liberal education were directly used for English equivalents to convey such Chinese education concepts. However, Suzhi(pingyin for “素质” in Chinese) education took deep root in Chinese educational philosophy and tradition. Due to its richness in Chinese characteristics, “素质教育” gets no precise corresponding expression in English. In Chinese circumstance, Suzhi takes forms of one’s political consciousness, moralities, ethical standards, professional competencies, and physical and psychological well-beings. It refers to the long internalized and relatively stable quality of a holistic person, who is shaped by inherent nature, education and social environment. Thus the main aim of Suzhi education is to improve Suzhi as a holistic person.

 

  Suzhi education emphasizes on developing students’ physical, psychological and cultural quality by continuous nurturing and accumulation in personality, knowledge, ability, and innovation. At middle and primary school stage, Suzhi education is carried out to mainly cope with the abuses or misuses of examination-oriented teaching approach in order to promote students’ well-rounded development and citizenship education.

 

  As for the phase of higher education, Suzhi education aims to balance the divergence of undergraduate curricular characterized by marginalization of arts and humanities education, rigid subject-based studies, extreme utilitarianism, and over-emphasis on required courses. Instead, Suzhi education stresses equally on humanities, science and technology, morality and traditional culture, integrating value building, personality formation, ability development, and knowledge acquirement to cultivate students’ social responsibility, practical skills and innovation capacity. The philosophy and implementation of Suzhi education are student-centered and oriented towards individual developmental needs through general education offerings, professional training, co-curricular activities, campus culture and social practice.

 

  No exact English translation is available at present, either quality education, cultural quality education, quality-oriented education, liberal education, or general education, for“素质教育”to illustrate its abundant implications. Therefore, the Chinese Association for Suzhi Education proposed to use Suzhi education as an English translation of “素质教育” and changed the title from the Chinese Association for Liberal Education(CALE) to the Chinese Association for Suzhi Education(CASE).

 

  Owing to the uniqueness of Chinese history, culture and national conditions, China must follow its own higher education development path and strike root in China to build world-class universities and cultivate top-level talents. Absorbing the essence of Chinese traditional culture to best adapt to the Chinese national conditions, the very concept of Suzhi education was first developed by a group of educators 30 years or so ago. Ever since then, the practice of Suzhi education tackled the educational malpractices in China and followed the trend of times while keeping the soul of education in mind. As educators, we should strengthen confidence in our path, guiding theories, political system and culture, and disseminate the idea of Suzhi education to the world and learn from the experience of general and liberal education in Western universities to build a higher education discourse system with Chinese characteristics.

 

  Chinese Association for Suzhi Education will, as always, to push the research and practice in Suzhi education throughout the country and strive to be an exchange platform for experts, scholars and administrators, and to be a driving force of reforms and experiments in Suzhi education, and a bridge communicating the idea of Suzhi education and the Chinese excellent traditional culture to the rest of the world. We hope to play an important role in building a most competitive higher education system and propelling the cause of Chinese education modernization.