The Progression and Change in Chinese Education in the Early and Mid-1900s.

Tianyue Si
1. “Commoners’ Education!”

Commoner's Education!

This poster depicts a huge amount of common Chinese people suffering and waiting in a feudal era in the early 1900s. Its publisher the National Christian Council of China was founded in 1922. National Christian Council of China (NCCC) was an advisory organization for Protestant Christian groups in China (BLUTS). Through this poster, NCCC reflected the educational need of the vast majority of people at the time, and the positive impact it could have on the whole country. This poster illustrates the changes in education’s purpose in the turbulent early 1900s. It was yelling out people’s voices of aspirating for refreshing and making changes. This poster is fascinating, as it includes people of all ages, genders, and social classes. It reveals that education in that time was no longer aimed to train people into officers or only face a small portion of the Chinese population. It became a “commoner’s education” and a solution to offer more people the opportunity to change their lives.



National Christian Council of China records, 1919-1950, series #, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York. (BLUTS)

Dreams Are Coming True

Following the appeal for a “commoners’ education”, this poster depicts people’s possible identities as both workers and students in the early 1900s as missionaries founded Christian schools in China. This poster is called “Work and Study”. As it is depicted, this person worked for Shenbao during the day and takes a night class at a Christian school. Shenbao, as a symbol of refreshed thoughts and liberation in the late 1800s and early 1900s, indicated the new mainstream among young generations, especially among students during that time. This young man was not from a wealthy family according to this picture. But he was still able to pursue his education. What fascinates me the most is that there is a female figure sitting in the classroom with a short hairstyle. This whole poster appears as an illustration of changes and hopes during the early 1900s. It corresponds to the first poster above and reflects the huge progression of the spreading of education among common people in China. There were more people gaining new thoughts and ideas and pursuing their own liberation through work and study.

Education & Society

This picture tells the consequences of promoting commoner’s education and the changes in social structures. This poster depicts various careers and a student. The person on the left top side of this poster was a mail carrier working for the Postoffice of the Republicans of China, Also, there is a teacher, a police officer, a machinist, a doctor, and a farmer. The author drew the student in the middle. Appealing to me, the identity of being a student was already connected to a broader range-to be ready to engage in society which included all the other careers. There was a potential purpose for the education of being equal and serving society. The publisher of both this poster and the previous one is the Christian Literature Society (广学会). It was founded by missionaries and provided Chinese education with new ideas and perspectives (Zhao, 2014).



Zhao, Shaofeng. “广学会与晚清西史东渐.” 史学史研究 2 (2014).


No Longer About Simply Gaining Knowledge

The purpose of education was constantly improving and promoted in the early 1900s. This poster was for The Four-Education Movement for Juniors. It was held and published by Tianjin Youth Association. This youth organization was founded in the late 1890s by missionaries. The purpose of this organization was to introduce western scientific knowledge and technologies to China. The Tenet of this organization was: “Spread the Christian spirit, unite the young comrades, develop a perfect personality, and build a perfect society” (Hou, 2016). This poster shows that education at that time was not only about teaching kids knowledge from books, it helped the kids to build up their life better, both mentally and physically. It was more about engaging in and experiencing with the communities.

Posted by Tianyue Si