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Wen says rote learning must go in Chinese schools

September 1, 2010

August 31, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Chinese schools have to
get their students to be creative and think for
themselves, Premier Wen Jiabao told officials, in
reference to the rote-learning deeply ingrained
in the national education system.

Students in China perform well in exams and tests
in which they are required to memorize answers,
but rate less well in creativity and critical
thinking, hampering the country's ambitions to
move its economy up the value chain.

"Students don't only need knowledge; they have to
learn how to act, to use their brains," Wen told
a meeting on July 13 in a lengthy speech carried
by the official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday.

"As Einstein said, imagination is more powerful that knowledge."

"We must encourage students to think
independently, freely express themselves, get
them to believe in themselves, protect and
stimulate their imagination and creativity," Wen said.

Other countries in Asia, including Singapore and
Japan, have struggled to address similar problems
in education systems which stress exam results and conformity.

China's ruling Communist Party keeps a tight grip
on what can be taught in schools and allows no
dissent on sensitive subjects like Taiwan
and  Tibet, suggesting any change in policy would
be hard to enact and fraught with difficulties.

Wen did not suggest how Chinese schools were
supposed to alter their teaching methods to
encourage freer thinking, but said education
reform was vital if the country was to get rich.

"A first-rate country can only be built with
first-rate education and first-rate talent," he said.
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