Education Reform in Shanghai in the Era of Globalisation: Towards a Balanced and Innovative System?

  • Zhiyong Zhu
  • Meng Deng
Part of the Education Innovation Series book series (EDIN)


Over the past three decades, the international community has witnessed China’s increasing integration into the global economy and dramatic changes to every aspect of its social life (Postiglione GA (ed). Education and social change in China: inequality in a market economy. M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, 2006). Shanghai, as the largest metropolis and economic centre in China, has been widely expected to play a leading role in the modernisation process of the national economy and technological innovation. As early as the 1990s, the Shanghai government set the goal of establishing itself as a global city and in its 10th Five-Year Plan (2001–2005), declared its aim to become a centre of international commerce, finance, trade and shipping by 2020 (Leman, China Bus Rev 29(5): 7–15, 2002). The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, a dominant force in the governance of China, encouraged Shanghai to play a prominent role “leading to change the mode of economic growth, leading to improve the capability of independent innovation, leading to promote reform and opening to the world, and leading to building a harmonious socialist society” (Xinhua News, ‘Four centers’ and ‘four leaders’ (in Chinese). Retrieved from, 2007). To realise these goals, the Shanghai Municipal Government (The outline of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan of Shanghai for national economic and social development (in Chinese). Retrieved from, 2006) advocated development of innovation to enhance the international competitiveness of the city and the use of science and education as the major strategy to achieve development of the city.

This chapter analyses Shanghai’s reforms against the backdrop of Chinese social changes and discusses the underlying tensions that Shanghai encounters in defining the role of local education in an increasingly globalised Chinese society. We identify two orientations of the reform measures: promoting balanced educational provisions and seeking innovations to enhance educational quality. The paper concludes that educational reformers in Shanghai must strike a balance between manifold understandings of education in international and Chinese society, mediating between cultural values as well as political and economic benefits.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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