On 23/05/2007, at 11:49 AM, Matthew Hale wrote:
Thanks for forwarding this, Dan. I've been following the Edu-factory project on an and off, and I'm interested in how changes in the education system in China, student activism, etc., relate to situations in other countries and in capitalism as a whole. Please let me know if you run across any other material on these topics. I wrote some comments on Wang Hui's interview on the CSG blog here:
The new Edu-factory website has posted a video (MP4) of an interview with Wang Hui about the marketist restructuring of China's university system. Glad to know someone from China is taking part in these discussions, although I'm not sure what I think about their general direction (theories of "cognitive capitalism" etc.), on the one hand, and it seems that China's experience could be related to global trends in more helpful ways, on the other. But this is a valiant first effort.
WH says that the percentage of college entrants from rural families has dropped dramatically in recent years, both because it's more difficult for rural students to prepare for the college entrance exams, and because rural parents increasingly regard education as a waste of time since degrees are worth less on the labor market. Has anyone seen any statistics to support this? He mentions the media stir last year about college graduates' difficulty in finding jobs – I had seen the figure "3 out of 5" college graduates failed to find jobs in the fields they trained for, but when I've mentioned this to faculty at the school where I work, they say that's impossible – almost all graduates can find jobs, it's just that they're unwilling to take them in remote locations. I'd be interested to see any other statistics people know of about this.
I was surprised that when the interviewer asked about student responses to this situation, WH only said that "everyone's talking about it, but there's no easy solution" – what about all the student riots last year about the value of degrees on the labor market? (See, for example, this, this, and this.) This would be a great topic to research in more depth, and to relate to the general Edu-factory discussions.
His account seems to describe the situation of grad students at some of the top few universities, but not most universities and colleges. For instance, he talks about how open and connected universities are to global events and knowledge via the internet, but in fact most students, including grad students, at Sichuan University, ranked the tenth best school in China, cannot access many off-campus and most overseas-based websites (the school provides access to its own campus network, and very few students splurge for installing their own connections), only
Ph.D. students have access to more than a few domestic periodicals, and the libraries are so difficult to use and understocked that many students don't even bother, preferring to squat on the floors of bookstores and skim books, or, more often, just to skip reading altogether and cheat on their papers and tests. Several of my master's-level students last semester didn't have email addresses, since they used the internet only to chat with people on QQ and read entertainment news, and students often have trouble accessing even domestic email accounts from the campus network. Most of the students at the small, private college (affiliated as a "branch" of another major university) where I teach now, on the other hand, use the internet only at off-campus netbars on the weekends (the school doesn't have computer lab, and most students don't own computers), and some have never even used a computer.
Glad he mentioned students' growing involvement in rural activism, but here I think he's also neglecting the majority of students. His point in mentioning this activism is to indicate a recent trend toward overcoming the gap between students and the laboring masses, but actually many students still come from peasant and working-class families, and, as he himself indicates, most see themselves as training for white-collar jobs they may not even get, not as elite academics in some kind of ivory tower. In fact, most student volunteers I've met ("activists" doesn't seem appropriate in most cases) see their volunteering as a way to help them get some kind of government job in the future, not as a way to ally themselves as organic intellectuals with subaltern struggles. So, on the one hand, it seems to me that most students are not so cut off from the masses in the first place, and on the other, the recent rise of student volunteering is not necessarily a move toward overcoming whatever gap may exist.
Please let us know if you run across any other publications, in English or Chinese, dealing critically with China's "industrialization of education" in relation to situations in other countries and any possible changes in capitalism and the class struggle.
By the way: the English translation of the report on the Yangzhou workers' struggle by WH and Cui Zhiyuan has not yet been finished after many months - please help out with that if you have a few minutes.
Subject: FW: [mlg-ics] Edu-Factory Project and Website
Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 11:17:18 +0800
Link below contains an interview with Wang Hui, fyi...
Sent: May 21, 2007 1:16 AM
Subject: [mlg-ics] Edu-Factory Project and Website
We are very happy to announce that the edu-factory website is up and
On the site there are three video interviews on conflicts in knowledge
production and transformations of the university available for download. The
interviews, which were recorded at the Global Meeting in Venice, Italy in
late March 2007 are with:
Ranabir Samaddar, Calcutta Research Group Stanley Aronowitz, City University
of New York Wang Hui, Tsinghua University, Beijing
We are very happy to be able to present these interviews about changes to
the university in three key sites: India, the USA and China.
As we hope to build the edu-factory website into a resource for edu-factory
and other linked projects we would be very happy if list members could send
suggestions for links, bibliography, multimedia materials etc. Please send
all suggestions to this address.
Also we ask you to spread news of the site through your networks.
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