by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu
UNITED NATIONS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- "China has made tremendous progress" and registered "incredible success" in education, and China's progress in education has been powered by its success in economic development, a senior UN official told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Irina Bokova, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said, "China has made tremendous progress in terms of literacy, of course, of enrollment, of gender, of linking all the different levels of education, of primary, secondary, high education, linking it also to the signs of innovation and new technologies."
"Of course, still there are challenges, but we have to say that it's an incredible success," she said.
Bokova, born in July 1952, was former Bulgarian ambassador to France and former foreign minister of Bulgaria. She was Bulgaria's permanent delegate to the UNESCO from 2005 to 2009. She was elected in October 2009 to be the first female to head the UNESCO.
In March 2010, Bokova visited China and met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing, the Chinese capital. During the meeting, Bokova described China as an indispensable partner of the UNESCO, saying the UN organization needs China's support and participation.
"I visited China last year and I discussed a lot with the Chinese authorities and of course with the ministers and with the prime minister. We also discussed the questions about the quality of education," Bokova said.
Kevin Watkins, director of UNESCO's 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, reinforced Bokova's statement on China's progress in education, saying "China is one of the world's success stories in education."
Watkins, who masterminded the annual monitoring report on the current situation in education in developing countries, underlined the relationship between progress and education in China.
"China has been a very high growth economy," he said. "It's been very successful in cutting malnutrition, it's been very successful in reducing child mortality and I think that none of these things could have happened without progress in education."
"So that has been one of the foundations for China's development success and what the country achieved in universe primary education," he said.
The Chinese government has made it clear that education is the cornerstone of national rejuvenation and social progress, and the basic means to improve all-round development of individuals.
China has 77 percent enrollment in secondary school, and has many students going into tertiary and higher levels of education, he said.
Meanwhile, Watkins also touched on the problems the Chinese government is addressing in the field of education.
"I think there are two fundamental problems in China that the government is addressing: one of course you still have very big skill shortages in key sectors of the economy," he said. "So lining the education system with the employment market and the skills demanded in the employment market is very important, and then of course, there are paths in China in some populations that have fallen behind."
Also on the efforts of the Chinese government in education, Bokova said, "China increasingly is putting an emphasis on technical and vocational training and education."
To this end, the UNESCO will organize a conference in China at the end of this year at the invitation of the Chinese government, she said. "We will organize big conference in China on technical and vocational training."
"I think there is a lot of expectations there that we will put a very strong recommendations and policies and involve governments in very many countries who can pronounce problems so that we can prepare give young people the skills necessary to try and further on their economy and work force," she said.