Principals from around the world gather in ECNU for ICP


October 23-25, more than 1,500 principals of primary and junior high schools, from 50 countries and regions, attended the 14th Convention of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) held at ECNU. The theme of this event Connecting Leaders,Creating the Future was approved by the State Council and Ministry of Education.

The 14th Convention of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) is held at ECNU.

Weng Tiehui, vice minister of education and a member of the Party committee of the Ministry of Education; Chen Qun, Shanghai vice mayor; Alta van Heerden, chairman of ICP; Ren Youqun and Huang Wei, director and vice director in charge of teachers' affairs with the Ministry of Education; Lu Jing, director of the Shanghai Municipal Education Committee; Tong Shijun, chairman of ECNU University Council; ECNU president Qian Xuhong; and Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba presented speeches at the opening ceremony. ECNU vice president Dai Liyi presided over the ceremony.

ECNU president Qian delivers the openning speech.

In his opening speech on behalf of the faculty and student body, ECNU president Qian cordially welcomed all of the guests to the campus and congratulated them on being a part of the international convention. Education bears the historical mission of inheriting civilization, cultivating talents, promoting transformation and creating the future, Qian said. It is the cornerstone of a country's economic development, social advancement, people's wellbeing and international understanding.

Moreover, as the first normal university of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), ECNU’s concept of Synchronizing with the world in education development and playing a role in world education research, in tandem with its ECNU Experience, calls on the national university to become a world-class model for global education. ECNU thereby strives to build itself into a new and improved normal university, leading China and influencing global education for talent training, education think-tanks, basic education reform and a pioneer in education informatization.

ECNU president Qian also called on global educators to work together in building a global education community, by contributing their wisdom to foster such a community, for a prosperous future of mankind.

President of the International Confederation of Principals Alta van Heerden delivers her speech.

President of the International Confederation of Principals Alta van Heerden praised Chinese education, calling it a progressive system that is built on solid research and which demonstrates a willingness to face global changes. She continued to praise education in China’s role in global education, saying, I encourage attendees to use this international environment to communicate with like-minded professionals how they can improve in teaching and learning experiences and find solutions for common challenges while creating the future we desire for students.

In the words of Heerdan, the ICP highlights the importance of school leadership on education; studies have indicated that among all school-related factors, the influence on students from their school leaders comes second to teaching.

So we have to see to it that the skills of school leaders are constantly honed in so that they can always keep up with the forefront of educational reform and create more opportunities for students.

Ji Xiaonan, a Grade 2 student from the high school affiliated to Renmin University of China gives her speech.

Ji Xiaonan, a Grade 2 student from the high school affiliated to Renmin University of China, who attended the ICP, gave a speech on her thoughts about elementary education. In addition to expanding discussions with international counterparts about the future of elementary education, she proposed the idea of creating future-oriented schools, with modern facilities and professional teaching faculty, to build diversified schools that respect and inherit national culture and value individual differences of students, emphasize cultivating students' leadership and critical thinking skills, and to create a happy school that is free of bullying. Students should be able to co-exist regardless of any differences felt by having respect for each other’s ideas.

Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Chen Qun gives his speech.

Vice Mayor of Shanghai, Chen Qun, spoke at the convention about China's educational reform and development. Shanghai has been dedicated to promoting equity and improving quality of its basic education. For example through education reform and improving education governance and systems, the city has developed a successful pattern of education performance with regional and local characteristics.

He also noted that Shanghai, with a population of 24 million people, aims to become a world-class university whereby the ICP provides an opportunity for the city to make itself known to the world while learning from others. He hopes the city can raise its education to an even higher level by 2035.

Vice Minister of Education, Weng Tiehui shares her views on education in China.

Vice Minister of Education, Weng Tiehui, said the ICP is significant in that it brings together representatives of school principals from all over the world, in order to discuss the challenges facing school leaders, and it will inflict a far-reaching impact on global educational reform and development. Since major scientific and technological innovations are leading to new changes in the society, educational concepts and teaching methods are also being affected globally.

As the largest country of the developing world, China faces a multitude of complex problems in education, and needs to guarantee every child's right to education and enable them to recreate their path in life through education. First, China must develop fair and quality education. Basic education is the starting point of education, the cornerstone of social equity and justice, as well as the foundation for improving national literacy, inheriting culture and civilization, and driving innovation and development. Basic education is related to the well-being of the people and the future of the nation.

Secondly, primary and secondary school principals should play a key role. For basic education, the principal plays an important role. An effective principal should be able produce a batch of good students and teachers. Thirdly, school leaders should work together to create a better future with fairer basic education. China is ready to work together with other countries, make good use of the ICP platform, and carry out extensive and in-depth cooperation that produce mutual results.

Vice President of ECNU Dai Liyi hosts the conference.

The fact that Jack Ma attended the convention was quite a novelty. He delivered his keynote speech about his experiences as a student in a normal university after the opening ceremony of the ICP. It was a meeting at which I've seen the most school principals in my life, said the founder of Jack Ma Foundation, a charity organization. When I was a child, I was afraid of school principals and tried my best to avoid meeting with them. I did not expect to see so many today.

Co-funder of Alibaba, Jack Ma attends the convention.

He said he wanted to be a lifelong supporter of education because education is probably the most important job in the world. Education shapes the future. China has about 15 million newborns each year and there are less than 100 million babies born worldwide every year. This is the most unique resource of mankind and also the largest source of wealth. Investing in the brains of nearly 100 million people is to invest in the future of the world.

In his eyes, the key to the future lies in education, and the key to education lies in teachers. The world should encourage the best students to take the job as teachers in normal schools and being a teacher should be regarded as noble profession with the highest payment. In other words, the quality of education depends on the efficacy of its principal.

It is very meaningful that ECNU has input a lot of energy and resources in training of school principals, said Ma. Good education in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai does not mirror a country's average education level.” On this point about education in rural areas compared with cities, Ma spent some time talking about the disparate educational resources, noting how those that have the most to gain from such changes are kindergarten, elementary and middle school students.

On the future of education in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is not only necessary to cultivate people with high IQ and EQ, but also people with a “high love quotient”. Machines can replace nannies, but not mothers and nurses, nor love. If there is no love quotient, the more powerful technology is, the more terrible the world becomes. This is the responsibility of education.

President of Change Meridian, Michelle Gibbings, presents her keynote speech.

A variety of educators talked about their ideas on leadership in global education at the convention. Michelle Gibbings, president of Change Meridian, was invited to give a keynote speech Finding Your Leadership Edge. Zhao Yong, a distinguished professor of the School of Education of the University of Kansas, USA, delivered a lecture Creating a new educational paradigm: the trap of mutual learning between global education. Steve Munby, an internationally renowned researcher of leadership and institutional reform, delivered a speech on principled, charismatic and imperfect leadership. Vicki Phillips, CEO of Educurious and founding partner of Teaching Partners, made a presentation on extraordinary leadership: driving innovation. Yuan Zhenguo, director of the Education Department of ECNU and a tenure professor of the university, made a report on the future has come: education is undergoing a great change. Mark Bray, distinguished professor of ECNU and former director of UNESCO's education planning bureau, shared with participants his opinion through a lecture on learning in and out of school: synergy, competition and responsibility in an increasingly market-oriented environment. Andreas Schleicher, dubbed founding father of PISA ( Program for International Student Assessment) and director in charge ofeducation and skills division of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), gave a report on preparing students for the future instead of the past: lessons from PISA.

On the afternoon of October 23 and 24, a side event of the conference was held in Tian Jiabing Education Academy Building where more than 100 principals from home and abroad shared their experiences in education from the perspective of their different countries.

Set up in 1990, the ICP is a global association that represents over 200,000 school leaders across five continents. It currently has over 40 members from school leadership associations. Each member is itself a major organization that supports the professional development and work of school leaders.. The Conference of International Confederation of Principals was first held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1990. 

The National Training Centre for Secondary School Principals (NTCSSP) under the Ministry of Education is a council member of the ICP and is home to chairman and secretary general of the National Research Society of Primary and Secondary School Principal Training. Set up in ECNU in October 1989, NTCSSP began operation in April 1990 as a State-level training center for secondary school principals approved by the Ministry of Education.

The center is tasked with cultivating reformers and leaders in China's basic education, serving China's basic education reform and development, taking an exemplary role in national primary and secondary school principal training, and promoting the development of the cause. Over the past 30 years, the center has held more than 700 training classes for middle school principals and trained more than 30,000 educational cadres in total. Students are from all over the world and the quality of the training has earned a reputation as the cradle of educators among middle school principals. The center hosted the executive committee meeting of the ICP in 2017.

This year's conference is the first ICP event ever held in China. It has provided opportunities for school leaders to network, collaborate and share experiences that will enhance outcomes for students through global education cooperation.

Edited by Linlan Zhang    Proofread by Joshua Mayfield    Reviewed by Wenjun Guo


East China Normal University