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Christian education in China; a study made by an educational commission representing the mission boards and societies conducting work in China online

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number of dentists to Szechwan to care for the large mission body,
but we do seriously question the advisability of attempting to build
up a complete dental school when the medical school is so inade-
quately staiTed. It is not yet at all competent to meet the situation.
We realize that dentistry and medicine have a close relation, but
it would have been wiser in our judgment to build up the medical
faculty before attempting to found a dental school. Now that the
work is well started and men are on the field, having acquired the
language, we cannot advise that the department be closed, but we
recommend that no more dentists be added to the faculty until the
medical school be thoroughly equipped and we urge other missions
not to attempt the foundation of similar departments until we have
adequately estabHshed our medical schools.

XI. Summary of Recommendations

(i) Recognizing the impossibility of furnishing the number
of physicians needed in China, and the necessity of meeting the


new demands for the expression of the philanthropic spirit of
Christianity, the Christian forces should limit themselves to the
maintenance of a very few medical schools which shall set up a
high standard of medical education and practice and contribute
to the profession men who will by their character and influence
maintain its ethical ideals.

(2) All medical schools should be coeducational, with the
possible exception of one school for women,

(3) Larger attention should be given to preventive medicine
and the training of health officers, and the stronger hospitals
should develop educational features, including the training of
nurses and public health work.

(4) Schools of Pharmacy and Dentistry should be left to
other agencies to develop.






I. Agricultural Work Under Way

342. Agricultural education began in China at least as early
as 1907. At present Canton Christian College maintains a college
of agriculture, and the University of Nanking a college of agri-
culture and forestry ; Peking University has organized an agricul-
tural and animal husbandry experiment station and offers college-
grade instruction in the same field ; Yale-in-China has several
courses in forestry.

343. There are three missions giving agricultural work in
middle schools; thirteen supporting work for the improvement of
crops and animals ; thirty-six giving agricultural lectures, short
courses, practice work for students; fifty-two maintaining school
gardens, and eleven growing seeds, nursery stock or vegetables
for sale. The American Presbyterian Mission North has eleven
stations doing some type of - agricultural work ; the Methodist
Episcopal six; the Canadian Methodist five. There are in mission
service in China at least fifteen foreign agricultural specialists
who hold degrees from agricultural colleges; thirteen returned
students educated in agriculture; and seven who are graduates of
institutions in China — a total of thirty-five men already at work
in the agricultural field under the auspices of Christian institu-

^ These facts are taken from the manuscript of an article by Professor J. Lossing
Buck, of the University of Nanking, prepared for the survey volume of the China
Continuation Committee. Probably there are other men and enterprises not listed



II. Evidences of an Increasing Interest

344. There is abundant evidence of a rapidly growing interest
in agricultural missions in China, many items of which are sum-
marized in the China Mission Year Book for 1919. Perhaps the
most striking testimony is a recent resolution, which has been ap-
proved by nine of the ten Christian Educational Associations in
China, as follows :

"That the Executive Committee of the China Christian
Educational Association be empowered to appoint a committee on
agricultural education, whose duty it shall be to prepare an 'All-
China' program looking toward the introduction of agriculture into
our mission schools, through the development of provincial normal
training centers for the suitable preparation of teachers."

The committee is at work on a program of increasing
the activities in all types and grades of agricultural work. The
Committee on Economic and Industrial Problems, of the National
Christian Conference of 1922, is including agriculture as an im-
portant part of its report.

III. Shall the Missions Increase Agricultural Work?

345. Some phases of educational endeavor under Christian
management, such as theological education, are universally re-
garded as germane to the Christian enterprise in China, but the
extension of work in agriculture is not yet the accepted policy
of all the missions, and it is necessary for the Commission to advise
on this point.

The more obvious objections to enlarging the agricul-
tural educational work are that the development of a great industry
like agriculture is a public function ; that China has already begun
a system of agricultural education; that in any event the task is
so huge as to be quite beyond the compass of Christian agencies;
that the cost of this type of education is prohibitive; that well-
trained men are not available for such work in China ; and finally.


that it is doubtful whether technical education of any kind is a
function of Christian education in China.

346. Some of these objections lie against nearly all aspects
of Christian education. The government has already inaugurated
nearly all branches of education, and every private educational
agency serves China as a supplement to the work of the gov-
ernment. The size of the problem has really nothing to do with
our question ; for the best argument for Christian education of any
sort consists in the uniqueness of quality, emphasis and outlook.

While the costs of agricultural education are high, there
is ground for believing that its development will make an unusually
strong appeal to persons and special groups not yet enlisted to aid
education in China. The able men already in the field, and the
newly^ aroused interest in agricultural missions at home, seem to
promise adequate personnel. Whether agriculture is as valid as
teacher-training for example, as a field of education, depends
upon the point of view as to the task of Christian education in
China. All education may be wholly Christian in purpose, and
one of the duties of Christian institutions is to demonstrate that
principle. Moreover it must be understood that agricultural edu-
cation, defined in a broad way, is far more than technical in con-
tent and application ; it is essentially humanitarian, and may be
fully Christian.

IV. Agricultural Education and the Chinese Church

347. But positive argument for including agriculture in the
plans for Christian education in China is found in the vital con-
nection between the growth and power of the Christian church,
and the function and possibilities of agricultural education. It is
estimated that six per cent of the people of China live in cities
of 50,000 population and over, and a similar proportion in towns
of from 10,000 to 50,000 population. Probably three-quarters of
China's 400,000,000 people live in villages and hamlets containing
from 2,500 people down to three or four families. It is believed


that 80 per cent of the Chinese have direct economic contact with
the soil and may be classed as farmers. It has also been estimated
that there are not less than one hundred thousand villages, each of
which with its group of perhaps ten hamlets tributary to it, offers
a center for a possible Christian church. It is evident that the
ambition to compass the Christian occupation of China depends
for its realization upon the ability of the church to reach these
rural masses, living in perhaps one hundred thousand villages and
one million neighborhoods or hamlets. Chinese civilization is
deeply rooted in these small but distinct and wholly democratic
social groupings. The Chinese church even now is recruiting
its workers from country-bred folk. The church cannot possess
China unless she secures the allegiance of rural China.

348. The Chinese church must be self-sustaining financially,
but the masses of village people are fearfully poor, constantly on
the margin of life, with practically no surplus. The missions have
a concern nothing less than vital in the permanent economic im-
provement of Chinese farming and farmers.

It would seem therefore as if the Christian enterprise
in China, purely as a matter of church statesmanship, or of in-
terest in church development, would be compelled to encourage
a widespread effort to educate the farm people.

V. The Farm Villages and the Kingdom

349. There is another justification for pressing agricultural
education. Many who are wholly loyal to the idea of securing
a strong Christian church in China, believe profoundly that the
church is not an end in itself, but is to be the servant of a
better China. An article in a recent number of The Chinese
Recorder, by Tai Ping Heng, puts this point of view forcefully :

"It is widely accepted that the task of the Christian
church is two-fold, the Christianization of China and Sinization
of Christianity. Neither of them can be accomplished if the vil-
lages are left out of consideration. Of real social control the
villages are the source."


350. AH experience goes to emphasize the fundamental need
of Christianizing local groups. The greater Christian community
is made up of a multitude of small Christian groups. In China
the farm villages are true social units, the very tissue of Chinese
civilization. If this civilization is to be dominated by and per-
meated with the principles of Christianity, these rural groups,
these farm villages, are to be made miniature kingdoms of God.
But the specifications of the kingdom are that it must be eco-
nomically sound and effective; intelligent in its manhood and
citizenship ; socially clean, wholesome and solid ; suffused with
the religious spirit; motivated by Christian ideals. Now edu-
cation is fundamental in this process of kingdom building, an
education that is as inclusive in scope as all the needs of the people,
as broad as the rural problem. A system of agricultural education
therefore, ministering to the technical, the economic, and the
social needs of the farm villages and hamlets of China is essen-
tial to the development of a truly Christian rural civilization
within her borders.

VI. The Task of Agricultural Education

351. The main purposes of a system of education that meets
the needs of a farming people are at least these :

a. To give a minimum schooling to the children of the
countryside reasonably commensurate in both amount and quality
with that given to the children of the cities, and adapted to the
special needs of the rural groups.

b. To train leaders of all ranks, competent and willing
to help in solving the problems of the farm folk.

c. To gain by research and experiment that knowledge
of facts and principles that is necessary to an intelligent ap-
proach to those problems.

d. To educate adult farmers in modern farm practices,
cooperative association, betterment of living conditions, and use-
ful citizenship.


VII. What is the Rural Problem in China?

352. It is impossible to visualize the task, or to plan wisely
for a system of agricultural education, without at least a cursory
review of the problems involved in a reconstructed agriculture
and country life in China. Even a mere index or list of problems,
which is all that can be given in this report, will serve to suggest
the breadth of plan, the generosity of intellectual interest, and the
social sympathy required to meet the need.

The farmers of China are wonderfully skilled in many
ways, and secure amazing results. The persistence of Chinese
civilization undiminished for forty centuries has been due in part
to the success of her farmers in growing food and in maintaining
soil fertility over great areas. But serious limitations characterize
China's farming and many difficulties arise with which the farmers
are unable to cope. For example, the farmers are not improving
the types of cultivated plants by seed selection. The potential
gains of this one reform are beyond calculation. The following
list suggests the presence of many similar problems :

a. Agricultural land. — Land tenure, small and scattered
holdings and widespread tenantry; evils of landlordism; great
acreage of lands unused for production of food or textiles.

b. Labor efficiency. — Surplus of labor, supremacy of hand
labor ; ineffective labor ; small labor income ; low standards of
living ; restricted diet ; poor sanitation ; dominance of supersti-
tions as affecting farm practice; serious prevalence of theft and
of menacing secret societies ; costly customs.

c. Possible improvements in production. — In some areas
the maintenance of soil fertility is a serious matter ; bettering
farm practice ; improving plants and animals ; developing animal

d. Economic conditions. — -Poor transportation facilities;
absence of cooperation in buying, selling, credit, and the like, with
consequent injustice to producers; high rates of interest; absence
of insurance; likin and other forms of unjust taxation.


e. Social life. — Family life; schools; health; recreation;
local government ; isolation.

f . Control of physical conditions. — Flood prevention ;
reforestation ; irrigation and drainage ; povi^er development,

g. Agriculture and national life. — Famine prevention; re-
lation of population to food supply ; the factory system and the
food supply ; village and home industries ; transportation and the
food supply; land development and colonization; agriculture in
relation to industry, commerce, and banking; Chinese agriculture
and world agriculture and industry; the farmers and political
development; legislation and agriculture; the organization of agri-
culture ; need for statesmanship and leadership in rural afifairs.

VIII. A Programme of Education in Agriculture under the
Auspices of Christian Institutions

353. The village school. — The village school is the most im-
portant single item in an adequate educational system for the rural
people of China. And while the consideration of the work of this
school belongs to another section of this report (see Chapter on
Elementary Education) the basic character of the problem in-
volved demands emphasis because of its bearing upon agricultural
development. For it seems imperative that the Christian forces
shall maintain a sufficient number of village schools to demon-
strate what is the best sort of education for the farm children, to
train intelligent leadership in the village life, to send on to the
middle schools and colleges those children that can profit by more
advanced schooHng, and to serve in general as allies to the chu:ch
in the development of the villages under Christian ideals. The
Christian village school should help China to answer such ques-
tions as these : can the village school be made as good a school
as the city school of the same grade? can it become a true edu-
cational and social center for the community? can its teacher
be a real leader and guide of the people? can we confidently look
forward to an effective and widespread system of education for


the rural population of China, comprising three-fourths of its

354. Agricultural education specifically. — The dictum that
neither the missions nor the Chinese Christian church can edu-
cate China applies with special force in the field of agricultural
education. But for reasons already indicated, we recommend that
an effort be made to develop as rapidly as possible a modest but
model system of agricultural education under Christian auspices ;
that the generally accepted tasks of agricultural institutions, teach-
ing, investigation, and extension, be included in the plans ; and
that every possible effort be made to cooperate with publicly sup-
ported agencies of agricultural education and development.

355. Standard development for each area. — In this system
we would consider six geographical areas : North China, East
China, South China, West China, Central China, and Fukien, and
would recommend the following standard development for each
area. In each region we would recommend a group of institu-
tions, closely knit into a cooperating system, and all the areas
joined into an all-China system. The institution in each area
would be:

a. A college of agriculture, which would carry on inves-
tigations, and be the center for extension service in the area. Such
an institution can probably be maintained at present only in South
China, East China, and North China.

b. A middle school of agriculture, preferably not con-
nected with the college and probably developed out of an existing
middle school, covering the new senior middle school grades.

c. One good agricultural vocational school in each pro-
vince, with a course of one year at the outset. This school should
be of as high grade as will reach youth who will become working
farmers. An effort should be made to have it cover the first year
or two of the new junior middle school grades.

d. Each mission should, as an experiment or demonstra-
tion, and in at least one elementary school in a distinctively farm-
ing village, aim to provide definite vocational agricultural work,
to begin at whatever grade or age seems necessary in order to


keep the boys in school for at least one. year of training for life-

' 356. The Agricultural College. — It is assumed that the agri-
cultural work in the Canton Christian College and in the University
of Nanking will be continued and enlarged. Peking University
is making only a beginning in agriculture, but is justified in this
step because it can serve a vast territory lying at a great distance
from Nanking, an area wholly distinct in its physical features and
agricultural character from those of any other part of China. If,
however, the larger part of the financial support for this work in
Peking, including salaries of foreign stafif, could be contributed by
Chinese, very great advantages, too obvious to detail, would ensue.
The province of Szechwan is in itself an empire, the bulk of its
population farmers, and it would seem inevitable that this dom-
inant interest of the people should be recognized ; but it might
be wise to build a first class middle school of agriculture before
attempting work of college grade. Central China presents a prob-
lem to be reserved for discussion in a subsequent paragraph. One
school of forestry will suffice for all China.

357. The Agricultural College should attempt to train special-
ists or experts. The particular occupations for which men will be
prepared must depend somewhat upon real demand, the actual op-
portunities for work; and will eventually include all the various
aspects of the rural problem. Men are now needed as teachers,
investigators, extension workers, and administrators. The college
can cooperate to some extent with normal schools and departments,
and theological schools and departments respectively, in training
teachers and preachers who will seek service where knowledge of
the farm problem is an important part of their equipment. The
Agricultural College under Christian auspices should send forth
real leaders competent to solve rural problems thoroughly Christian
in spirit and outlook. It should guard the curriculum against nar-
rowness, both by requiring courses in citizenship and literature,
and by emphasizing the wide ranges of natural science, philosophy,
history, and social science, that underlie and permeate the subject
of agriculture and the problems connected with it.


358. Investigation. — Little progress can be made in agricul-
tural teaching in China, unless the results of investigation and
experiment are available. It is quite out of the question for the
Christian agricultural colleges to cover in their research the whole
rural problem, but it is essential that they carry on work in a few
fundamental lines, and cooperate with government agencies in a
common endeavor to discover the science that must underlie prac-
tice. Only so can improvement in agricultural affairs result.

It must be understood that while the social or human
welfare results aje the great aim of Christian schools, technical
and economic gains must be the foundation for permanent social
progress. Hence research in both the scientific and social realms
is necessary.

359. The extension service. — No agricultural college does its
work properly that fails to carry a suggestive and authoritative
message to the farmer. The Christian agricultural colleges can
hardly hope to reach the great masses of Chinese farmers, but
they have no better service to render than to demonstrate success-
fully how the farmer, with his tiny farm, his utter lack of educa-
tion, his narrow horizons, his reliance upon superstitutions, can
be inspired to faith in applied science and to hope for a fuller life,
economically and socially. Lectures, demonstrations, testing sta-
tions or farms, travelling exhibits, motion pictures, charts, bulle-
tins, placards, must all be used in the effort to stir the farmers to
better things.

Market days, idle periods, especially in the winter months,
will of course be taken advantage of in extension work. When-
ever possible agricultural students should be used as helpers in this
work, in order both to enlarge the working force and to give
students a love for and practice in social service of this sort.
All that is said about reaching the farmers applies with equal
force to the women and to the boys and girls of the country.

360. The Middle School of Agriculture. — For some time to
come it is probable that few graduates of middle schools will find
employment on farms, but already there is a call for their services
as assistants to experts, especially in extension teaching. More-


over there is little hope for the Christian occupation of rural China
unless both preachers and teachers especially trained for the task
can be sent to serve the farm villages. One of the largest con-
tributions of the Christian agricultural middle school, for the im-
mediate future, is through its function either as a specialized type
of normal and theological school, or as an auxiliary to these two
training institutions, to prepare rural teachers and preachers.

It is impossible for the Commission to go into detail con-
cerning the precise character of the work to be offered in this
agricultural middle school. But the wonderful history and remark-
able achievements of Hampton Institute, as well as the religious
quality of its leadership and purpose, at once suggest its value as
a model for China, just as it has served as an inspiring guide to
industrial education in all parts of the United States and even in
Europe. The emphasis upon the practical arts, character develop-
ment through work, religious appeal as guide both to self-develop-
ment and to social service, sympathy with the common people,
would all commend themselves to the Chinese. Hampton stresses
both teacher-training and preacher-training for those going to
rural fields. It includes trades as well as agriculture. It would
seem as if Central China is probably the best area for the first ex-
tensive enterprise of precisely this type, presumably near the
Wu Han cities. Here it might well be a substitute for a college
of agriculture. If the Shantung institutions are to stress the
preparation of teachers and preachers for country work, there
again the agricultural middle school idea might be utilized. So also
in Szechwan, as a beginning of this type of work, an institution
of essentially middle school grade is suggested, though it might
at first cover only the junior middle school period. The same
probably holds for Fukien.

These recommendations relative to middle schools do
not at all contravene the plan for provincial agricultural training
centers, projected not long ago by some educational leaders in
China, if funds for the larger project can be obtained. It is sug-
gested moreover that the People's High School of Denmark offers

Online LibraryChina Educational CommissionChristian education in China; a study made by an educational commission representing the mission boards and societies conducting work in China → online text (page 19 of 37)