The great industrial superpower of modern times, China is also attempting to reform and modernize its education system. China's leaders aspire to the creation of a knowledge-based economy capable of sustained economic growth; without the adequate provision of more advanced education, that goal will remain elusive. Since 1996, the People's Republic has invested heavily in state education, in order to close the 'learning gap' between China and the West. Here, Kerstin Lehr presents an in-depth study of the effects of this state-led education policy, marrying national and local data with the results of interviews and surveys conducted during extensive fieldwork. She also offers a new conceptualization of educational 'success', adopting a much wider framework than the constricted, largely economics-led methodologies that dominate the existing literature on China and other countries. Providing an analysis of the huge inequalities growing in the country between rural and urban populations, and the effects of education on development and political freedom, The Politics of Education in Contemporary China is an important work for those seeking to understand contemporary Chinese development.
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Kerstin Lehr is currently Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She gained her PhD from the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield, UK.Review:
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