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Archives of a Prestigous School---An Interview with Principal Liu Pengzhi

P: Presenter 

L: Principal Liu Pengzhi, the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China (RDFZ)

P:  The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China ( commonly abbreviated as RDFZ), situated in the heart of the Zhongguancun Hi-tech Park, Haidian District, was founded in April, 1950, with its former name of Beijing Intensive Course School for Laboring People. It was then the only high school under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. After 52 years’ teaching reforms during which the school has kept blazing new trails in a pioneering spirit, RDFZ, one of the first batch of Beijing municipal key schools, has been awarded the banners of “Cultivating Students with All-round development, Running School with Characteristics” and of “Significant Achievements in Training Specially Talented Students” by the Beijing Municipal Education Commission. And a number of honorable titles have been conferred on the school, namely, “National Advanced School in Labor-skill Education”, “Beijing Demonstration High School for Science and Technology”, “National Demonstration High School for Modern Technology Education”, “National Advanced School in Training Back-up Personnel in Physical Education”, “National Advanced School in Sports and Health Work”, and “Beijing Demonstration High School”.

With talented students coming forth in large numbers, RDFZ has become not only a base for churning out talented teenagers of various kinds, but also the cradle of excellent graduates. It is the school’s practice to recruit and cultivate gifted teenagers in giftedness, physical & art education, which has led to their winning a large number of medals in competitions at the municipal, national or international levels. From 1985 to 2001, RDFZ has always ranked among the best in terms of the percentage of students winning admissions by institutions of higher learning. National colleges and universities have recruited over 5,000 students from the school, more than 86% of them entering leading universities. Thus, it has become one of the major sources of candidates to those prestigious universities.

Many years’ efforts have yielded tremendous achievements in infrastructure development as well as in building up the ranks of teachers. Principal Liu, would you please give us a brief introduction?

L:  Well, I’d like to take faculty building first. In a school, a headmaster plays a key role, so do its faculty. Without qualified teachers, there would be no way for students to have access to better education.

In terms of faculty building, efforts have been made in two aspects.           

On the one hand, we have been attaching much importance to training our own teachers. Our modern educational and technological facilities make it possible for teachers to take various training courses, resulting in the enhancement of their overall qualities. In addition, we lay equal stress on furthering their studies. RDFZ highly supports those who are pursuing higher degrees, and it is our tradition to pay their tuition fees as long as they are admitted. The teachers here are encouraged to do a variety of training classes sponsored by either the district, municipal or state education authorities. If they should encounter any inconveniences, we would be very glad to help them out. For example, during their absence from school, we usually invite their colleagues to substitute for them. On top of that, a number of teachers have been sent abroad to either carry out academic exchanges or advance their studies on a short-term or long-term basis, so that they can learn from their counterparts advanced experiences, and, at the same time, identify their own strengths. As a result, their self-confidence has grown, and their quality improved.

On the other hand, the introducing of talent has been emphasized. The strategy of running world-class universities was raised by President Jiang Zemin and the Minister of Education Chen Zhili in 1998. Accordingly, 1.8 billion yuan was poured into such universities as Peking University, Tsinghua University as a means of importing talent. There does exist brain drain, but an increasing number of overseas students are coming home to advance their careers.

For high schools, there should be several, scores of, or even hundreds of world-class ones nationwide, among which two-way flow of teachers is encouraged. Under the condition of not causing faculty inadequacy in rural areas, we have brought in some teachers of special grade, experts, doctoral and even postdoctoral degree holders. So far, our school boasts 18 teachers of special grade, 14 state-level backbone teachers, 8 doctoral and postdoctoral degree holders and 100-odd senior teachers. That’s to say, the faculty structure is sound.