Journal directory listing - Volume 11-20 (1966-1975) - Volume 13 (1968)

The First Technical College in Modern China: Foochow Shipbuilding College
Author: Chyu Li-Ho


China is one of the countries of the longest history in the world. A good school system was well developed even before the Chow dynasty; its educational institutions included both universities and primary schools.
After the Chow dynasty, during the Han period, the public educational system was reformed by the Emperor Han Wu-ti in 124 B. C. on recom-mendation of the famous Confucian scholar, Tung Chung-Shu. In addition, the private academies still existed. The objectives of traditional Chinese education were to train the officials. Subject matters were mostly huma-nities. Students studied the classics, literature, history, and philosophy, they knew little or nothing about science and technology. The traditional ideas of the Chinese education stressed the exercise of the mind and deprecated the use of the hands. Such attitude, however, changed rapidly during the latter part of the nineteenth century, when China engaged into greater contact with the materialistic civilization of the Western coun-tries.
Owing to the West forcibly ended China's isolation with its super-iority of science and technology, China had learned a bitter lesson and felt it urgently necessary to learn the secrets of western strength. In the early beginning of the 1860s, "self-strengthening" movement was initi-ated to help people learn Western techniques of shipbuilding and gun-making, and many new types of the schools were established. Besides the Tungwen Language School created in Peking in 1862, Shanghai Language School was set up in 1863, and Canton Language School in 1864. The main func-tion of those schools was to train people to master foreign languages.
This article focuses on the first technical college of modern China, Foochcow Shipbuilding College. It was set up in 1866 by Tso Chung-Tang, the commander-in-chief of Fukien-Chekiang. Since it was located in Foochow, it was named the "Foochow Shipbuilding College".
This college was divided into two branches. One adopted French as medium of instruction, and the other English. The objective of the former was to teach the students how to build the ship; the latter was to teach the students the skills of sailing. But the students could not acquire these techniques unless they had learned Western languages. For this reason, besides the technology of shipbuilding, the skills of sailing, arithmetic and design, the college's curriculum included both French and English. Meanwhile, the Emperor's proclamations and the classic Chinese literature were also taught. So the students would not forget their Chinese heritage.
The faculty of the college was almost all invited from foreign countries, including Frenchmen, Englishmen and Russians. But the admini strators of the college were Chinese.
The college was affiliated with the Foochow Shipbuilding Factory, which was closed by the Department of Army in 1907 because of the shortage of funds. The college, however, was maintained. In the latter part of the Ch'ing dynasty and early in the Republic, many engineers, maritime administrators, and naval officers were graduated from this institute.
In short, this college was the pioneer of vocational education in mod-ern China. It influenced the technical and scientific education of the later universities and promoted the industrialization of modern China greatly.

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