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On Chinese education system

  • Category :
  • business and economics and politics
  • July 10th, 2006

    Before I went to China, my thought was to go meet all my developers, get to know them, put a face to their names, and identify who would be responsible for each module, and do some knowledge transfer so they can do the requirement, design and code.

    Man, was I in for a surprise.  The Chinese software market is still at its infancy.  If you think about it, US has about 40 years of SW development experience.  India has 20.  China has about 10.  The developers in China are treated more like blue collar workers in the technology sector than actual developers.  Independent thinking was so discouraged that my developers were afraid to ask questions, let alone challenge your design.

    So I took a developer out for dinner.  We went to this sushi place in a prime building in the business district.  The quality and the choice of sake rival that of Seattle, so as the price.  I wasn’t surprise we didn’t see any locals there.  We talked about a lot of things, and one of them was China’s education system.  In China, there is a national curiculum issued by the government to ensure that all colleges in all Proviences fills the same base level of requirement.  The requirement is so literal that most college choose to test if student remember these requirements stright from the book than anything else.  Of source for the student, if you can recite the entire text book, you get a good grade.  This is not too different than American public high school, where the goal is to make sure everyone get some base level of an education, at the expense of the top performing gropup.  It is an impressive task given how many people China has.  But because of that, Chinese student were not encourage of independent thinking.  Universities are just factories to produce engineer ready to code, rather than education institutes taking on a particular view on an academic subject (i.e. CMU A.I. vs MIT A.I.).  There is little variation or need for innovation either because of the lack of a domestic market.  Student are satisfy with the status quote and just following the crowd rather than challenging it.

    Mind you, at 1.6 billion population, this is not an easy task.   But since that’s the case, student seldom challenge  what was taught.  They are afraid of giving the wrong answer or asking the wrong question.  If you spoon fed them, everyone of the engineer will be capable of executing exactly what you tell them, exactly the way it is.

    But I have every confident that this is going to change in 10 years.  As soon as China develop a domestic market, there will be greater and greater to innovate locally.  Which make me think the only thing outstanding as a bottleneck is the talent to train all of the Chinese developer, to establish a culture for innovation.  I am doing my share.  Hopefully China wiill have 5 more real developer than it has today by the time this is finished.

    Entry Filed under: business and economics,politics

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