The China-ASEAN Vocational Education Exhibition and Forum will take place on Friday and Saturday in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Aimed at becoming an international gala for presenting innovative development of vocational education in China and for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the event features a combined conference-exhibition-forum-competition format.
Li Xiaoyong, spokesman for the Education Department of Guangxi, told a news conference at the end of August that the gathering will include a conference on education cooperation, a vocational skills exhibition, seven parallel forums and five skills competitions among vocational school students.
The exhibition will focus on the role of vocational education in lifting service capacities, especially in promoting regional high-quality development, opening-up and cooperation, manufacturing powerhouse construction, rural vitalization, modern services and the inheritance of traditional handicrafts.
The parallel forums are designed to be academic symposiums on a variety of themes, under the guidance of the National Teaching Instruction Committee of Civil Affairs Vocational Education and the national authorities in charge of various trades. They are expected to promote China-ASEAN exchanges and cooperation among schools, businesses and industries, Li said.
As for the competitions, organizers said contestants from across China and ASEAN member countries have signed up to demonstrate their vocational skills in cooking, logistics, manufacturing, e-commerce and flower arrangement artworks.
Fruitful biennial event
The biennial China-ASEAN Vocational Education Exhibition and Forum, which has been held six times since its inception in 2012, has won wide acclaim in the education community at home and abroad, with 81 cooperation projects signed among schools, research institutions and businesses.
Past projects signed at the forum include a Guangxi-Hong Kong modern vocational education development center jointly founded by the Education Department of Guangxi and Vocational Training Council of Hong Kong in 2015; the E-commerce Valley international cooperation project in 2017; and a marine education and training program launched by the EDG and the Office of Deputy Minister for Human Resources, Science and Technology, and Maritime Culture of Indonesia's Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs in 2019.
In 2021, the EDG and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Technical Education Development signed a memorandum of understanding for vocational education cooperation. After more than a year of discussions, the two parties reached an implementation agreement on the establishment of a China-ASEAN technical and vocational education training center in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, to which selected experts from Guangxi are dispatched for work every year.
Thanks to the forum, a China-ASEAN vocational education development community has taken shape, aimed at jointly promoting the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by United Nations members. Also, Guangxi and neighboring Vietnam's four border provinces have established an annual educational work communication mechanism to facilitate bilateral exchanges.
The forum has helped vocational education institutions in Guangxi expand cooperation channels by joining hands with local companies in cooperation with peers, businesses and trade associations in ASEAN member countries. This has led to the establishment of platforms for sharing educational resources and industry-academia-research collaboration.
For example, Liuzhou Vocational & Technical College cooperates with LiuGong, a leading machinery maker in Liuzhou, a manufacturing hub of Guangxi, to export manufacturing expertise and standards. They have linked with schools in Thailand and Indonesia to launch subcenters of the LiuGong-LVTC Global Customer Experience Center in the two countries, recruiting 16 Thai students and 80 Indonesian students.
LVTC has also assisted four Liuzhou-headquartered companies of LiuGong and automakers SGMW, Dongfeng Liuzhou Motor, and Guangxi Auto in their global training centers, combining online and offline operations that offer services to more than 2,000 trainees annually. In addition, the college has helped SGMW compile 10 electrical circuit, mechanical work and training handbooks for its overseas outlets, including the one in Indonesia.
The school has also cooperated with Guangxi Auto to jointly develop vocational technical authentication standards for industrial robot operation and maintenance, welding technologies and other skills, which have been shared with the company's production facilities in India and Indonesia.
Via the platform of the forum, China has shared hundreds of industry and education standards with its ASEAN peers. Of the shared standards, 42 relate to vocations, 207 are about classes, 21 are regarding posts and 99 encompass technical standards.
Meanwhile, nine national education and training centers have been founded in Guangxi to foster professionals and specialists for ASEAN members, and an online platform dedicated to China-ASEAN vocational education has been put into operation. As well, a group of vocational education alliances have been founded, covering vocational education in border cities, arts, tourism and agriculture, leveraging complementary strengths and boosting resource sharing and mutually beneficial development in member units.
Intl student destination
The autonomous region's education authorities have gone to great lengths to burnish Guangxi's image as an appealing destination for international students, especially those from ASEAN members. Since 2004, the EDG has held 25 exhibitions in seven ASEAN members and other countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative to showcase Guangxi's achievements and attract overseas students.
As Guangxi's appeal as an overseas student destination continues to grow among ASEAN members, many students from those countries now regard it as the first option for their overseas studies, said Luo Yaoguang, the EDG's director of international cooperation and exchanges. Ten selected higher-learning schools, including Guangxi University and Guangxi Vocational& Technical College, have become educational centers for foreign enrollees, and students from ASEAN members have accounted for around 60 percent of total international students in Guangxi in recent years.
Currently, more than 800 international students study at vocational education institutions across Guangxi while local higher-learning vocational education institutions have opened 11 overseas branches, benefiting some 690 foreign students in the destination countries through training programs in machinery manufacturing, textiles, construction, cross-border e-commerce, education and agriculture, among others.
Government data show there were 306 vocational education institutions across Guangxi in 2022, with a total of 1.56 million students.
Guangxi authorities highly value vocational education, earmarking an annual fund of nearly 2 billion yuan ($274.44 million) to support the sector's development, improve facilities and teaching quality, add schools and training centers, and award teachers for their success in educational reform, said Qin Zhuangcai, director of vocational and adult education at the EDG.
From top: Liuzhou Vocational& Technical College assists Son Ha Group, a company in Vietnam, in its research and development of an automated production line. Leaders cut the ribbon to open the Indonesian subcenter of the LiuGong-LVTC Global Customer Experience Center. A teacher from LVTC offers vocational training in Thailand. CHINA DAILY