Mao's consolidation of power 1949-57:
Women, Education and Youth
• Traditional Chinese view on women
• -Women had to obey men (widowers even had to obey
• -Arranged marriages and dowries
• -concubines and mistresses as well as wives among rich
men were common
• -very few Chinese women were able to get any form of
• -they were excepted to work and do labour in the fields
as well as raise children, cook and do the housework
UNDER THE GMD
• There was some change, but it was very slow. By 1922,
only 2.5 percent of university students were women.
• Under the GMD administration there were limited
changes for women, such as the building of school,
hospitals and more opportunities were offered to
women. However, these social transformations were
either extremely slow or inexistent
• Foot binding and arranged marriages still existed, and
there were limited education opportunities.
• The communists had a much better record of promoting equal
rights for women.
• For example, In jiangxi in 1930, arranged marriages, and buying
wives became illegal.
• Divorce was made easier to get as well.
• Women were given the right to vote, and Mao demanded that a
quarter of all representative bodies had to be made up of women.
Despite sounding very good it did lead to a heavier burden for
many women to carry. Many of the young men had to go to fight
against the GMD, the women were forced to take over all the
heavy farm labour, as well as keep up with their housework.
• When the communists took power in 1949, one of the very first
reforms addressed the issue of women's rights.
• The new Marriage Law of 1950 outlawed arranged marriages and
the payment of dowries to a husband and his family. Concubinage
was banned, and divorced, unmarried or widowed women had the
same rights to own property as men.
• Traditional Education valued in China.
– Entry to Imperial China Service.
• Restriction of entry to schools and universities;
– High cost.
– Heavy demand of academic curriculum
– Very low pass rate in Imperial Examinations. 5 Percent passing rate in one year.
• Western involvement created numbers of schools/universities
offering Western Style of education.
Non-existent for peasants .
In the early 20th Century, 30 percent of Chinese adults were literate.
Before 1949, only 20 percent of children attended primary school.
Under Mao 1949-57
• Mao had own ideas about education. (Building a socialist society)
– Economic development required for large number of skilled specialist.
– Political indoctrination can be achieved through mass literacy
• Rejected traditional Chinese education
– Elitism, old-fashioned curriculum, teaching methods, and reliance on books
• He believed learning should come from experience
• Opposed Western influence in Chinese schools/universities
– Thought to be a form of Cultural Imperialism
• Shortage of educated people in 1949.
• Development of primary education under Communist rule was
– By 1956, less than half of children aged between 7-16 had full time education.
• 20 years later, proportion of primary-aged children in schools had
reached 96 percent.
– Slow progress of education system
– Started off at a very lose base , especially in rural areas.
• New communist government did no put high priority on education.
– In 1952, investment by the State in education and cultured only a mere 6.4
• Education did not break away from the traditional Chinese model of
– ‘Key schools’ in each district, where best teachers were directed and for which
children had to sit tough entrance exams.
• Heavy emphasis on testing, examination s and physical education.
– Supposed to be based on merit, but children on high ranks and government
officials occupied most of the places in these schools.
• Higher education was expanded and universities remodeled.
– Concentrating on technical and scientific subjects.
– The Country’s need for more trained specialists.
• Large numbers of students were sent to study in the USSR until late
• China isolated from the west
– No longer given opportunities for Chinese students to study there.