Subtle convergence?. Locating similarities between Chinese educational reforms and global quality assurance and evaluation trends

Date03 April 2017
Published date03 April 2017
AuthorOlli Suominen,Johanna Kallo,Risto Rinne,Yihong Fan
subjectMatterEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Subtle convergence?
Locating similarities between Chinese
educational reforms and global quality
assurance and evaluation trends
Olli Suominen, Johanna Kallo and Risto Rinne
Department of Education, University of Turku, Turku, Finland, and
Yihong Fan
Institute of Education, European Studies Centre,
Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
Purpose Different aspects of the globalisation of Chinese basic education have been examined in recent
studies. This paper aims to contribute to this research base by examining the relationship between global
quality assurance and evaluation (QAEVAL) trends and reforms in the Chinese basic education system.
Design/methodology/approach Relevant research literature in English and Chinese was reviewed to
assesses whether a movement of increasing convergence with global QAEVAL policy contents and policy
instruments has taken place in China following the introduction of the so-called “equality education”. A
guiding theory regarding the basic features of QAEVAL was used to conceptually structure the ndings of the
Findings The ndings indicate that several subtle convergences are evident in China with global trends in
QAEVAL, but a few notable exceptions are also evident.
Research limitations/implications Albeit the research indicates certain convergence, the authors
acknowledge that further research is still needed to examine causal mechanisms of QAEVAL policy
convergences and the processes and logic through which global trends are localised.
Originality/value Both the importance of QAEVAL in global education governance as well as China’s
importance to world affairs are increasing. However, so far, the effects of QAEVAL policies on China’s
education system have not been thoroughly examined. This paper can serve as a concise starting point for
examining the topic more deeply.
Keywords China, Educational policy, Transnationalism, QAEVAL,
Quality assurance and evaluation, Chinese education
Paper type Literature review
Major political and economic realignments have taken place in China since the late 1970s
when the country began to transform itself slowly into a “socialist market economy” – a
process of economic change which has intensied over time[1]. These signicant changes in
Chinese society have been partly facilitated by – and have partly resulted in – the country’s
policy of opening up to the world[2]. The increased contacts with the international
community have played a signicant role in the unprecedented changes that the Chinese
education system has been going through in these past few decades, even if these encounters
have not always been smooth and trouble-free (Deng, 2011;Liu and Fang, 2009).
For the education sector, the opening up of the Chinese economy and society to the outside
world implied enhanced cooperation and increased encounters with ideas that travel in
education and society globally (Liu, 2005;Liu and Fang, 2009), so to speak, ideas with “global
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 1 December 2015
Revised 22 April 2016
27 June 2016
16 August 2016
Accepted 16 August 2016
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.25 No. 2, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/QAE-12-2015-0043

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