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Participatory Learning and Action 62. Part V: Experiences by professionals – participatory approaches in health and education in China

Guest edited by Johanna Pennarz, Song Haokun, Deng Weijie, Wang Jianping

Journal article

Part V of Participatory Learning and Action 62 (PLA 62) reflects on the experiences of professionals working in the health and education sectors in China.

In China, both health and education services met major challenges during the process of rapid growth and transition, in particular in rural areas. In these areas, these services were traditionally provided through the collectives. After the dismantling of the collective economy, local health and education services faced major challenges with regard to funding and staffing.

While the wealthier section of the Chinese population has benefited from advanced health technologies, the poor have lost access to even the most essential services. Rising fees have forced the poor and low income population groups to minimise their use of health services and as a result their have been increased instances of ill health.

In the education sector, there have been successful interventions, such as the Gansu Basic Education Project (GBEP), which piloted a complex set of innovative methods and approaches to improve quality of basic education in poor areas of Gansu Province. The basic approach was to focus on school development, participatory training methods and specific measures to target disadvantaged children. The project concept included principles of community involvement and participation in the new curriculum reform and development which were later incorporated in the promotion of the basic compulsory education programme. The transition to a demand-led approach has changed the attitudes, roles and even behaviour of the professionals.

This section contains three case studies by professionals working in these sectors, one looks at the participation of women in public health planning, one looks at participatory teaching methods, and the final one looks at participation in policymaking by members of the gay community by men who have sex with men (MSM).

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