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Selected Research Project
Project Title A Study of Provincial-level Implementation of Citizenship Education Policy in China
Principal Investigator

Dr Gregory Fairbrother

Area of Research Project Educational Leadership, Policy and Administration
Project Period
From 1/2006 To 12/2008
The objective of the project is to answer the following questions:
  1. What do the central government policy guidelines advise on the implementation of citizenship education?
  2. How is citizenship education implemented?
  3. What is the process by which provincial-level bureaucracies formulate plans to implement centrally formulated citizenship education policy guidelines?
  4. Who are the bureaucratic actors in this process?
  5. What are the products of this process (in the form of detailed action plans, study activities, meetings with school administrators, or other activities or documents)?
  6. What monitoring mechanisms are in place to evaluate how citizenship education policy is implemented in schools?
  7. To what extent do policy implementers perceive that they exercise discretion in implementing central directives? In what ways is this discretion manifested?
  8. What tensions do policy implementers find between the aims of citizenship education and the demands of educational decentralization?
  9. In what ways is there diversity in the implementation process and products among provinces?
Methods Used
The project gathered more than 50 central and provincial-level political education directives and interviewed officials in charge of political education in four provinces.
Summary of Findings

Citizenship education, which is conducted by introducing students to political philosophies as well as to the achievements and goals of a government, is one way for schools to promote support for national governments in the growing generation. This project took the case of citizenship education in China to study the process by which the Chinese Communist Party encourages support for itself among Chinese students. 

Simultaneously, Chinese provinces, cities, and schools themselves have considerable freedom in carrying out education policy guidelines with regard to school administration, particularly in the generation of school funds. This project attempted to determine the extent to which this freedom is applied in terms of citizenship education. It sought to determine the differences in which provinces promote and carry out citizenship education. 

Whereas there was some indication of differences among provinces, these were relatively minor. What was more apparent was the faithfulness of the provinces in encouraging citizenship education to assist the central government. This loyalty is mainly attributed to the idea that the central government is likely to gain more support from an appearance of effectiveness than it would from granting freedom, which may result in implementation problems of its policies.
Selected Publications Related to the Study
  • Zhao, Zhenzhou and Gregory P. Fairbrother.  2010.  “Pedagogies of Cultural Integration in Chinese Citizenship Education.”  Pp. 37-52 in Kerry J. Kennedy, W. O. Lee and David L. Grossman, Eds.  Citizenship Education Pedagogies in Asia and the Pacific.  Hong Kong:  Comparative Education Research Centre, the University of Hong Kong, and Dordrecht, Netherlands:  Springer. 
  • Fairbrother, Gregory P.  2011.  “Forging Consensus for Implementing Youth Socialization Policy in Northwest China.”  International Journal of Educational Development 31:179-186.
  • Fairbrother, Gregory P. 2012. “The Chinese Paternalistic State and Moral Education.” In Citizenship Education in China: Preparing Citizens for the “Chinese Century, edited by Kerry J. Kennedy, Gregory P. Fairbrother, and Zhenzhou Zhao. London: Routledge.
Biography of Principal Investigator

Gregory P. Fairbrother is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and a Research Fellow in the Centre for Governance and Citizenship at The Hong Kong Institute of Education. His research interests focus on state legitimacy and citizenship education, citizenship education policy, political socialization, and youth political attitudes in Mainland China and Hong Kong. He teaches courses in citizenship, social identity, and sociology of youth. His doctoral dissertation, which examines the relationship between patriotism and critical thinking among Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese university students, was awarded the University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Prize. He has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels in Hong Kong, Changchun, and Nanjing, China. He served for 5 years as the Student Advisor and Associate Director of the Hong Kong office of the New York-based Institute of International Education.

Funding Source

General Research Fund