Beijing Re-Instates Labor Courses to Address Manpower Shortage: Former Professor

By Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and she covers China-related topics.
May 21, 2022 Updated: May 21, 2022

The Chinese regime’s top educational watchdog has again added labor courses to the curricula of primary and secondary schools in China.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, during the Cultural Revolution period, Chinese students had to work in factories or in the countryside, and the communist authorities called this political education campaign “learning from the workers and peasants.”

The regime’s Ministry of Education published in March 2022 “Compulsory Education Labor Courses Standards (2022 Edition),” which will take effect in September. Official online guidelines require labor courses to average no less than one hour per week in class and one week per school year on the job, which means that students in grades 1 to 9 will have to do manual or physical labor for at least one class hour per week starting in the autumn semester.

Labor education is to be done both on and off campus. Labor skills include cleaning, cooking, handicrafts, manufacturing, services, and others.

For the senior grades, education via labor includes working as volunteers in farm fields, factories, aged care facilities, and disability facilities.

Way to Address Labor Shortage: Former Chinese History Professor

Liu Yinquan, a former professor of history at Weifang University in China’s eastern Shandong Province, said that the CCP’s purpose of re-incorporating labor classes into the curricula is to tackle its shortage of workers.

“Because of the one-child policy that had been implemented for a long time, China’s population has decreased sharply. On top of that, a big issue the CCP now faces is that fewer and fewer young people are willing to be a worker, a farmer, or a cleaner. There is not going to be enough workforce [in China],” said Liu in a recent interview with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times.

China recorded a net growth of 480,000 people in 2021, according to a news portal of the regime’s Xinhua newsgroup, in February 2022.

A statistical bulletin of the Ministry of Education in August 2021 revealed that there were 156 million primary and secondary students, from grades one to nine, in 2020.

Liu expressed his worries about the health of students doing the labor courses.

“There must be professionals in this area to calculate children’s labor time, and their hygiene and safety must be taken care of,” Liu said.

According to a report by the CCP mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency in August 2006, due to labor shortages, Xinjiang has organized primary and middle school students and students from college and universities to pick cotton in the fields since 1994. But the Chinese authorities issued a notice in 2006, banning primary pupils in Xinjiang from doing such work “because the intensity of labor is not conducive to their physical and mental health.”

The 2022 Compulsory Education Labor Courses Standards stipulate that labor education content is arranged in four stages based on the age of the students.

Students in the first two grades are required to learn cleaning and garbage disposal on campus and cooking at home. Older students are required to learn how to grow vegetables and raise household poultry and animals. Grade seven to nine students will learn skills in aquaculture, farming, metalwork, carpentry, electronics, clothing, textile, ceramics, and other industries. They are also required to work as volunteers to “help the disabled and take care of the aged people.”

Li Xin’an contributed to the report.

Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and she covers China-related topics.