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close this bookProceeding of the International Symposium on Technical and Vocational Education - Beijing, China, 13 -18 September 1993 (CSEUNESCO, 1993, 384 p.)
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Open this folder and view contentsAnnex

Summary of IIRR's China Program

Dr. Julian Gonsalves
International Institute of Rural Reconstruction
Silang, Cavite, Philippines

1. IIRR's Roots in China

IIRR is the outgrowth of the mass Education Movement that Dr. Y.C. James Yen (1893-1990) and his colleagues started in China in 1923. They established the "Chinese National Association for Mass Education Movement" which started as an innovative literacy program. It later evolved into an integrated "four-fold program" with education, livelihood, health and self-government components to help the farmers and laborers combat the four basic interlocking problems that confronted them, namely illiteracy, poverty, disease and civic inertia.

For 25 years (1924-1949), Dr. Yen implemented the four-fold Rural Reconstruction Program in the provinces of Hebei, Hunan and Sichuan. The National College of Rural Reconstruction was established at Xiemachang, Sichuan province, to train workers for rural reconstruction work.

From China, Dr. Yen extended his rural reconstruction experience to other third world countries. Thus were born the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) in 1952, the Guatemala RRM and the Colombia RRM in 1965, the Thailand RRM in 1967, the Ghana RRM in 1972 and the India RRM in 1979. The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) was established in the Philippines by Dr. Yen in 1960 as a research and training center. Through IIRR, the philosophy and principles of rural reconstruction which evolved in China are now being propagated and applied to empower or "release" the potential powers for self-development of millions of poor families in developing countries.

2. Dr. Yen's historic return to China

At the invitation of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China, Dr. Yen made his historic return to China in 1985 after an absence of 36 years to study the progress of China's rural education program. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund provided for the travel expenses to China of Dr. Yen and members of IIRR's senior staff. In 1987, Dr. Yen made a second visit to China to meet with officials of China and many of his former students.

Following Dr. Yen's visit to China in 1985 and 1987, the relationship between and among IIRR, the State Education Commission and other Chinese agencies developed gradually and was strengthened through the following events:

In 1988, a two-week seminar was held at IIRR for 15 Chinese rural development specialists, including members of the Education Committee of NPC, Central Institute of Education Research (CIER), the research arm of State Education Commission and the Alumni Association of the National College of Rural Reconstruction.

In 1990, an international conference on Dr. Yen's philosophy and its applications was held at Shijiazhuang in Hebei province, jointly sponsored by IIRR and CIER. This conference was participated by over 70 scholars and development leaders from China, Philippines, India, United States, Japan and Canada. IIRR's share of expenses was made possible through grants from German Agro-Action, World Bank, Asia Foundation, Starr Foundation, Mrs. Carleton Cooke, Dr. C.Y. Chen, etc.

In May 1991, at the invitation of the State Education Commission (SEDC), Ms. Ping-sheng Yen Chin, Mr. Conrado D. Navarro and Mr. Demetrio J. Imperial of IIRR participated in the International Symposium on rural education held in Tai'an, Shandong province. After the conference, the IIRR members visited three of SEDC's rural experimental counties in Shandong province to learn more about their "integrated reform of rural education."

In September 1991, IIRR invited a group of ten (mayors and educational commissioners from the three counties that hosted IIRR's visit) to a ten-day seminar on IIRR's philosophy and approaches.

These two events in 1991 were made possible through grants from the World Bank, Starr Foundation, Robert Stem, Mrs. Carleton Cooke and Mrs. Elizabeth Leslie.

3. Exchange Program with SEDC and other China group

At the conclusion of the 1991 exchange visits, IIRR and SEDC agreed on a three-year exchange program. The two institutions would take care of the international travel expenses of their own members and the in-country expenses would be paid by the respective hosts. The exchange program with SEDC aims to develop a collaborative program between IIRR and SEDC, whereby IIRR can contribute in some significant way to SEDC's integrated rural education program in its experimental counties and can also learn from their experiences to enhance IIRR's international training program.

With a three-year grant from Starr Foundation, the program moved ahead.

In the summer of 1992, Dr. Juan Flavier, Mr. Greg Par and Mr. Ricardo S. Dayrit of IIRR visited four rural counties (Changping County near Beijing, Change and Fugo counties in Henan province and Conghua County in Guangdong province) of China. In July 1992, a team of ten from the four counties visited IIRR to learn more about IIRR's programs.

In April 1993, a team of six from IIRR visited Jinghai County near Tianjin and three ethnic minority counties in Guangxi province. In July, 10-12 members from those counties will attend a seminar at IIRR, Philippines.

Another exchange will take place in 1994.

With fellowship from Robert Stem, Mrs. Carleton Cooke, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Chen and other promising prospects, IIRR will invite an additional 10-12 members from other Chinese agencies, involved in rural development, to join the seminar planned for SEDC in 1993 and 1994.

4. Exchange program with Chinese environmental groups

In late 1987, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) suggested that it might be worthwhile for IIRR to visit some Chinese institutions engaged in research in sustainable agriculture. Through the encouragement of Rockefeller Brothers Fund, IIRR began an exchange program mainly with the Nanjing Research Institute of Environmental Science.

In September 1988, a three-person team from IIRR led by Dr. Julian Gonsalves made the first of a continuing series of visits to China to prospect for areas of cooperation in agriculture and environment. A two-week visit was hosted by two Chinese research organizations - the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIES) based in Nanjing City, Jiangsu province, and the Zhejiang Provincial Research Institute of Environmental Protection based in Hangzhou. IIRR shared its experiences in low-external input rice production upland rice-based agroecosystem development and technology dissemination strategies particularly the "Barangay Scholars" approach. The Chinese, in turn, related their experiences in biogas, integrated aquaculture, integrated pest management, the recycling of agricultural wastes and other technologies as part of the features of an "ecological farm or community".

In November 1989, IIRR's visit was reciprocated by a five-person delegation representing three organizations - NIES, the Nanjing Municipal Bureau, and the Environmental Protection Institute of Zhejiang province. The delegation was led by Professor Li Zheng-fang of the NIES.

From then on technical exchange visits between institutions in China and IIRR moved on its own momentum.

In 1990, two participants, one from Nanjing Research Institute of Environmental Science and one from the Environmental Protection Institute of Zhejiang province attended the 33rd International Senior Managers Training Course in Rural Reconstruction.

In April 1991, a three-person team from IIRR led by Scott Killough went on a short-term consultancy in China for Winrock Foundation. The mission of the team was to assist three Chinese institutions in documenting their research projects in regenerative agriculture for an English-language Conference to be held in Nanjing.

In October 1991, one participant from Nanjing Research Institute of Environmental Science attended the First International Course on Regenerative Agriculture (ICRA).

In February 1992, four Chinese, three of them from Asia Pacific Regional Research and Training Center for Integrated Fish-Farming and the other one from the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science joined the ICLARM-IIRR workshop to produce an information kit on rice-fish culture.

In March 1992, a five-person group from Anhui Provincial Scientific Investigation Delegation visited IIRR.

In October 1992, one participant from Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science joined the ICRA.

In 1993, three members from the Nantong Environmental Protection Bureau visited IIRR. They made field visits to IIRR project sites. They also visited different environmental agencies observing technologies and strategies for environmental protection in the Philippines.

In September 1993, there will be another environmental group from Liaoning to visit IIRR.


1. Mr. Conrado D. Navarro: IIRR China Program

2. Mrs. Ping-sheng Yen Chin:

a. Brief summary of IIRR's China Initiative 1985-1993
b. Program of Training and Exchange in China 1992-1994

3. Mr. Teodoro Teddy: An overview of IIRR's Activities in Agriculture and Environment with Institutions from PROC