Centralization, decentralization, recentralization ‐ Educational reform in China

John N. Hawkins (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Publication date: 1 December 2000


China’s educational leaders have long debated the pluses and minuses of decentralization of control and resources of China’s vast educational enterprise. During various periods of post‐1949 China, the central authorities have devolved control to the provinces, key cities, and rural communes, only to recentralize later usually due to political reforms. In this chapter various stages of the educational reform movement begun in 1985 will be considered and we will focus on what motivated the reforms in the context of China’s unique political culture. Some specific features of educational decentralization will be examined such as finance, curriculum and management. We conclude that while the current leadership appears to be committed to decentralization, they remain conflicted over the need to maintain control while at the same time respond creatively to the needs of the new market economy.



Hawkins, J. (2000), "Centralization, decentralization, recentralization ‐ Educational reform in China", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 38 No. 5, pp. 442-455. https://doi.org/10.1108/09578230010378340

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