In the 1990s, in order to ensure the implementation of the “Compulsory Education Law” and to consolidate and improve the results of “Pu Jiu”1, China began to implement “controlling dropouts”2 nationwide project. Under the social background at that time, the focus of the work of “controlling dropouts for schooling” was mainly in rural areas where education resources were scarce, and it was used to focus on solving the problem of school-age children dropping out of school due to poverty and illness in rural areas. With the increase of financial investment in compulsory education, especially the promotion of the “two exemptions and one supplement” policy in 2007, poverty has ceased to be the primary cause of dropouts. The phenomenon of “Passive dropouts” in rural areas has been greatly reduced. However, a new social problem in urban areas poses a new challenge to “controlling dropouts”-unlike in the past the situation of “passive dropouts” of school-age children in rural areas due to family economic difficulties. A large number of children have begun to “actively drop out of school”: some school-age children have voluntarily abandoned formal full-time compulsory education and turned to traditional cultural training institutions such as “private schools” and “class reading classes”, which has led them to drop out of school. This new social issue has attracted the attention of the national education department, and drive them to solve the policy problem of taking measures. In April of 2019, the Ministry of Education promulgated “Several Provisions on Prohibition of Obstructing the Implementation of Compulsory Education”. In this document, the business scope, publicity content and training content of non-governmental training institutions such as “Chinese school class” and “female Durban” are strictly regulated, and the duties of guardians and the administration of local education departments are strictly regulated. Responsibility has been clearly stated, which is a big effective measure adopted by the Ministry of Education in face of the new difficult problem of “controlling dropouts”.
Behind the promulgation of “Several Provisions Prohibiting Obstacles to the Implementation of Compulsory Education”, there is a process in which social issues in the field of education enter the policy agenda and eventually develop corresponding public policies. In order to clarify the process of constructing the policy agenda and the key forces that push the issue into the policy agenda, this article attempts to use John W. Kingdon’s Multiple-Streams Theory to provide a reasonable perspective for this case.
2. Applicability of Multiple-Streams Theory in Chinese Scenario and Model Fit
2.1. Multiple-Streams Theory
John W. Kingdon’s Multiple-Streams Theory is based on the Garbage Can Model, which be used to explain how to bulid the policy agenda in the background of US ( Shanahan, McBeth, Hathaway, & Arnell, 2008). The theory provides a systematic explanation of how a social problem becomes a policy problem, describing “a separate set of problems, solutions, and political opinions that come together to push a problem onto a public policy agenda that tends to take government action.”, trying to explain Why the attention of policy makers focus on certain social issues. Kingdon believes that there are three Streams in the policy-making system: Stream of problem, Stream of policy, and Stream of politics: Stream of problem involves how the problem is defined and confirmed, including indicators, focus events, current project operations and feedback; Stream of policy reflects a series of alternatives and policy recommendations put forward by the policy community (professionals in a specific policy area). The idea that ultimately survived is through continuous “softening”3, And it has technical feasibility and value acceptability. The political source is independent of the source of the problem and the policy, it is composed by Political factors such as competition among groups, election results, distribution of political parties or ideology in Congress. The three Streams are independent of each other and each has its own rules and mechanisms. When the three major sources matured, the “window of policy” was opened. The opening of the “window of policy” indicates that policy issues have been identified, policy recommendations have been adopted, and the policy agenda has changed.
2.2. Mode Fit
To analyze the Chinese public policy agenda using the Multiple-Streams Theory, we must discuss its applicability in Chinese Scenario. Through the China Knowledge Network search literature, it was found that in the research of policy agenda setting, policy changes, and policy termination, many local scholars have made specific research results using the Multiple-Streams Theory in combination with China’s actual cases. This proves to a certain extent the applicability of the Multiple-Streams Theory in the background of China. However, considering that Multiple-Streams Theory is a method used to explain how the policy agenda is structured in the background of US, if it is directly used in the Chinese context, it will definitely lead to the problem of inadaption. As one scholar pointed out, “when using the Multiple-Streams Theory to analyze China’s policy process, it must be combined with the characteristics of the political system and management system in order to more scientifically analyze the policy issues in China’s public management process” ( Bi, 2007). For analysis, the author believes that the Multiple-Stream analysis model should make the following amendments in the Chinese context:
The first is the dominance of political stream. In the Multiple-Streams Theory, Kingdon did not explain the role of the three major sources in setting the policy agenda. But in the real situation of our country, the political source should play a leading role among the three major sources. The reasons are as follows: On the one hand, “From the current state of China’s political power structure, the power of the ruling party is the core power” ( Chen, 2005). In the party system, China implements a Multiple-party cooperation and political consultation system led by the Communist Party of China. The Communist Party of China is the core of leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics and has absolute leadership and decision-making power. As the highest political leadership, it exercises overall leadership over the party and the country. Representative offices of people’s congresses at all levels who formulate and publish public policies and the state institutions they produce must accept party political leadership. On the other hand, the input process of contemporary Chinese public policy shows the general characteristics of “internal input” ( Zhang, 2000). It is often the party organizations and governments that actively seek and discover problems, and Put it directly on policy agenda, so that these issues are directly shaped into policy issues without going through the public agenda. The expression and integration of all interests in society must also reach the central policy system through the institutional information collection system established by decision-making organs. Therefore, refer to Nick zaharidis’s viewpoint about framework of Multiple-Streams in the centralized state ( Sabatier & Weible, 2014), We Several variables of political origin, including public sentiment, competition among pressure groups, and changes in government, were integrated into the concept variable of “ideology of the ruling party”
Secondly, the three major sources and streams influence and interact with each other. According to Multiple-Streams Theory, Stream of problem, Stream of policy, and Stream of political sources operate independently and do not affect each other. However, in the context of China, the streams influence each other, especially the frequent interaction between the problem stream and the political stream: whether political forces allow the media to report on social issues will determine whether the source of the problem can be formed, and whether social issues involve the ruling party’s Core interests will also trigger fluctuations in political orientation. On the other hand, the attitude of the core leadership in political sources can promote the opening of the policy window and influence the policy direction ( Yu & Yao, 2013).
Finally, some policy entrepreneurs in China have dual identities. In the Chinese context, some “policy entrepreneurs” have dual identities and have a significant influence both inside and outside the policy-making system. They are not only government officials, business representatives, experts and scholars in the policy community, but also representatives of the People’s Congress or CPPCC members. While spreading their opinions through the media and writing them to spread their views widely in society, they also made suggestions and suggestions in the “two sessions” and submitted their proposed policy views to the National People’s Congress for consideration or submission to the proposal committee. The review and delivery to relevant units directly affect policy formulation.
3. Multiple-Streams Analysis of the Policy Agenda Construction Process
3.1. Stream of Problem Analysis: Indicators, Focus Events, and Negative Policy Feedback
In this case, indicators, focus events, and feedback on the policy constitute the stream of the problem. Often, problems are brought to the attention of policy makers by the fact that certain indicators fully indicate that there is a problem there ( Kingdon, 1995). The data of the indicators mainly come from the government’s routine Monitoring and monitoring by government agencies or NGO researchers or scholars on specific issues at a specific node. The official website of the Ministry of Education of China regularly publishes the “National Statistical Bulletin of Education” every year, and routinely monitors such indicators as gross enrollment rate, compulsory education consolidation rate, progression rate, full-time teacher qualification rate, and facility equipment compliance rate. Among them, the gross enrollment rate has always been the key to judging the success of the “controlling dropouts” work. According to the Statistical Bulletin of National Education Development in 20184, The data released shows that the gross enrollment rate of junior high school students in China reached 100.9% in 2018, a decrease of 2.6% from the previous year, and there has been a large rebound. Under the premise that the statistical caliber is unchanged, this large-scale change is obviously anomalous phenomenon, which shows that the work of compulsory education to control dropouts may face new challenges. In addition, according to data from the special governance actions of external training institutions jointly conducted by the Ministry of Education in 2018, as of May 23, 2018, of the 128,418 external training institutions that have been ranked, 44,542 are unlicensed institutions, accounting for 34.69% of the total number of reorganized institutions; 38,594 institutions with business licenses and no school permits, accounting for 30.05% of the total number of reorganized institutions.5 By the end of the year, There were 401,050 out-of-school training institutions nationwide and 272,842 institutions with problems, accounting for 68.03% of the total number of out-of-school training institutions.6 Obviously, some of the off-school training institutions, including traditional cultural training institutions such as old-style private school and Women’s Moral Code Courses, have unlicensed problems. The investigation of special actions was confirmed by decision makers.
The problem is usually not self-evident because of these indicators. They also need focus events as a driving force to attract common attention within government and society. In this case, social issues such as “Women’s Moral Code Courses” and “old-style private school” hindering compulsory education have gained tremendous social attention through multiple focus events. Here, the author uses a tool-Sina Weibo-which have large user group7 and a good interactive relationship with traditional media-serves as an entry point to analyze the social attention of an event. According to the statistical results, a total of six incidents recently caused great public concern, as shown in Table 1.
In addition to the six incidents mentioned above, three incidents occurred in 2014 and 2015 “Beijing Shunyi Black Private School Girls Abuse”, “Guangdong
Table 1. Related focus event statistics.
aData from the statistics on the Sina Weibo APP’s ranking of the number of related event readings and discussions; bData from the Sina Weibo Blog App’s statistics on the main Weibo topic-related readings of events; cDate from the WeChat applet “Yunhe Data” for the recent Weibo Hot Search.
Dongguan Menzheng China Academy Launches Female Moral Education” and “Shanghai Private School 800 pupil Use kowtow etiquette “have also caused some public opinion. Although the six incidents listed in the table sparked social concerns mainly due to the conflict between the institution’s teaching philosophy and the mainstream values of society, the improper use of teachers’ punishment rights, or the “celebrity effect” of the incident, they were followed up by local government agencies Investigating and punishing, these “female moral class” and “Chinese school classes” all revealed problems such as unlicensed teaching contents, violated social customs and socialist core values and illegally accepted students.
In addition to indicators and focus events, government officials can receive feedback on the operation of existing projects. This feedback often brings issues to their attention. “Feedback” is how public social issues have risen to The key links of policy issues can provide information that does not meet the legislative intent or higher-level administrative intent, indicating the reality or some unexpected consequences of failing to meet specified goals. In 2014, in order to implement the spirit of the Third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on improving the education of excellent traditional Chinese culture, and vigorously develop Sinology education, the Ministry of Education issued the “Guideline for the Improvement of the Education of Excellent Chinese Traditional Culture” (hereinafter referred to as the “Guideline”). The Guideline states that in order to strengthen the education of traditional Chinese culture, we must persist in combining with the cultivation and implementation of socialist core values. However, due to the lack of follow-up measures to restrict and control the qualifications, propaganda methods, and teaching content of traditional cultural education institutions, some individuals and institutions have taken this chance as the propaganda tool by the state, which is misleading parents sent their children into this institutions. These institutions deliberately distorted and interpreted the provisions of the “Guideline” on traditional cultural education, catering to the growing concern of the general public about Chinese traditional culture and the distrust of formal channel education, and have attracted a large number of parents to send their children to school instead of receiving formal compulsory education. At the same time, because these institutions are under the banner of “National Education” and traditional cultural education, some local education departments have given them “green lights” to support national education and traditional cultural education, making the problem of “active dropout” of urban children more and more difficult. Serious. With the emergence of many negative news from the “Female Moral Class” and “Chinese Study Class”, public opinion has strongly questioned such social training institutions-experts, scholars, educators, current affairs commentators and ordinary people have voiced their concern through the media. Dissatisfaction with the “deviation” status of traditional cultural education. Among them, it is considered that the implementation of the teaching content of the “Female Moral Class” and “Chinese Study Class” in the society is a copy of traditional cultural machinery, separated from the current era and environment, and deviated from the core values of socialism has become the consensus of most people.
3.2. Stream of Policy: Suggestions from the Policy Community
When the problem is identified and gets the attention of some people in the society, the solution around this problem will generate many policy suggestions, and these policy suggestions constitute the stream of the policy (Huang & Xu, 2012). Within the framework of a multiple-stream, Stream of Policy comes from the policy community, that is, professionals such as scholars, members of parliament, and government officials who collectively focus on issues in a policy area and make corresponding policy recommendations.
Within the framework of a multiple-stream, the source of the policy comes from the policy community, that is, professionals such as scholars, members of parliament, and government officials who collectively focus on issues in a policy area and make corresponding policy recommendations. Members of the policy community expect their policy propositions to attract the attention of civil and government. In order to accurately describe the composition and distribution of the policy community in the “active dropout” of urban children, the author summarizes it into Table 2.
From the perspective of personnel composition and distribution, the composition of the policy community in this field mainly includes scholars (2), government officials (2), educators (1), and entrepreneurs (1) five categories.
According to Kingdon’s point of view, to survive the policy proposal, standards such as acceptability in value, technical feasibility, budget constraints, and public acquiescence should be met. In this case, the acceptability of value and technical feasibility have enabled policy recommendations to drift in and out of the policy-making system.
Mandatory (compulsory) is one of the four basic characteristics of compulsory education in China. It is the obligation of schools, parents and society to allow school-age children and adolescents to receive compulsory education, which is clearly stipulated in China’s compulsory education law. The compulsory nature of compulsory education is mainly related to the policy value orientation of educational equality. Educational equality in the field of compulsory education should guarantee equal opportunity at the starting point (that is, equal opportunity for schooling) and equal opportunity for education ( Lao & Liu, 2000). The rise of “Chinese School Class” reflects the parents ‘pursuit of personalized education, and it is also a reflection of parents’ exercise of educational choices. However, while giving parents the right to choose education, they should not ignore the responsibilities attached to the exercise of this right by parents. Some parents in today’s society send their children to “Chinese school classes” that promote feudal dross instead of receiving formal education. This is obviously a
Table 2. Policy recommendations of policy community members.
manifestation of improper exercise of this right. Therefore, in the above policy recommendations, Committee Member Ge Jianxiong’s compulsory proposal to strengthen compulsory education and Committee member Han Ping’s policy recommendations to guide parents to establish science educational concept embodies education responsibility for guardians to accompany compulsory education in addition to the optional right to family education. Therefore, The proposal has received the attention and support of the education sector.
China’s policies related to out-of-school education have also undergone a change in value orientation from “encouraging school running” to “supporting and standardizing” ( Wang, 2016). The change in this orientation reflects the emergence of urgent problems to be solved by social forces in establishing out-of-school education. Especially for the problems of high fees for off-campus educational institutions, incomplete curriculum systems and chaotic schooling. In the above policy recommendations, the policy recommendations that emphasize the special governance, qualification review, establishment of supervision and reporting mechanisms, and standardization of education methods and content on external training institutions are the manifestations of this value orientation. The realistic scenario of blindly encouraging school running and not regulating the school order has become a thing of the past. The policy recommendations of entrepreneurs to “free up the restrictions on running private schools and encourage private capital to run independent educational institutions that appeared in ancient times” are not Consistent with this policy value orientation.
In addition, some policy recommendations were not immediately adopted because of insufficient research and demonstration. For example, in response to the “Proposal on Setting Up Traditional Cultural Classical Courses in School Education” proposed, the Ministry of Education responded that “your proposal on setting up traditional Chinese cultural heritage courses mainly involves the following issues that require further investigation and demonstration : The “Chinese Traditional Culture Classics” includes suggestions about “University”, “The Doctrine of the Mean”, “The Analects”, “The Mencius”, “The Book of Morals”, “The Book of Changes”, “The Book of Poems”, “Book of Rites”, etc. If students must learn this books, How can they adapt to the age characteristics of students without increasing their academic burden? How to handle the relationship between the “Chinese Traditional Culture Classics” course and the existing courses such as Chinese? Obviously, this policy proposal was not taken into consideration by policy makers because it did not fully take into account the student’s academic burden, age characteristics, and existing curriculum, it finally floated out of the policy-making system.
Most of the initiatives of the policy community in the policy area of private traditional cultural training institutions focus on industry normative policies, and there are fewer policies that encourage support. The policy recommendations mostly confirm whether they “float” into the policy system through the education department’s response to the motion proposals at the two sessions. Although the specific policy recommendations are different, calling on relevant departments to standardize private traditional cultural training institutions to prevent them from replacing full-time compulsory education has become the consensus of most people in the policy community, and some policy recommendations have received the attention of relevant departments.
3.3. Stream of Political Analysis: Ideology of the Ruling Party
Stream of Political is an important part of the policy agenda, consisting of factors such as public sentiment, competition among pressure groups, election results, the distribution of political parties or ideology in Congress, and changes in government. Based on the aforementioned amendments to the Multiple-Streams Model, the author intends to analyze the Stream of Political of this case starting from the conceptual variable of the ruling party’s ideology.
Serving the people is the fundamental purpose of the Communist Party of China, and governing for the people is the basic ruling concept of the Communist Party of China. Benefiting the entire people and sharing the fruits of reform and opening up is the general guiding ideology of the country’s work. At the same time, based on the national political system, the party has the leadership responsibility to the government, and the government accepts the party’s political, ideological, and organizational leadership. This also makes chinese government’s policy trends influenced by the party’s guidelines, policies, lines, and resolutions. Since the enactment of the “Compulsory Education Law of the People’s Republic of China” in 1986, promoting all children of school age to receive free nine-year compulsory education has been an educational policy goal that the party and government have been committed to achieve. In 1992, the 14th National Congress of the Communist Party of China proposed the “two basics” (short for basically implementing nine-year compulsory education and basically eradicating illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults), and made it a “top priority” for the education work of local people’s governments at all levels. In 1997, the report of the 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clearly reiterated that “the active participation of all parties should be vigorously promoted for nine-year compulsory education.” In 2001, the State Council The “Development Decision” put forward the policy requirements of “taking effective measures against weak links to consolidate and popularize the achievements of the nine-year compulsory education”, and began to implement the “two exemptions and one supplement”8. In 2003, the Party Central Committee and the State Council further clarified the strategic position of rural education as the top priority in education, and made major decisions to increase education funding mainly for rural areas, and determined to focus on strengthening compulsory education and development rural education. In 2007, the report of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China put forward efforts to make all people “learn and teach”, and pointed out in the “Outline of the” 11th Five-Year Plan “for the development of national education”. During the period, the government was fully responsible for compulsory education, gradually introduced compulsory education into the scope of public financial protection, and began to comprehensively promote the “two exemptions and one subsidy” funding policy. In May 2010, the Outline of the National Medium- and Long-term Education Reform and Development Plan 2010-2020 continued to emphasize that “compulsory education is the top priority of education” and put forward “In 2020, comprehensively improve the level of education and comprehensively improve education Quality, and basically achieve balanced development in the region “development goal; the 2012 report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China made a major strategic deployment of” balanced development of nine-year compulsory education “, and proposed that all people” learn and learn “ New progress; in 2017, the report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China once again emphasized “striving for every child to enjoy a fair and quality education”, and put forward in the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for the Development of National Education” The binding goal of 95% compulsory education consolidation rate by 2020 and the “Notice on Further Strengthening Control of Dropout Insurance to Improve the Level of Compulsory Education Consolidation” will include “Controlling dropout insurance into the local government’s assessment system”;In August 2018, When the General Office of the State Council issued the Opinions on Further Adjusting and Optimizing the Structure and Improving the Effectiveness of the Use of Educational Funds, it emphasized again that “always adhere to compulsory education as a teaching The top priority of education investment is to implement government responsibility.”
Therefore, popularizing compulsory education and promoting equity in compulsory education have always been the goals of the party and the government in the field of compulsory education. This is not only reflected in the relevant “Policy Declaration” mentioned above, but also in real capital investment: According to the statistical data of the “National Education Funding Yearbook”, since the new century, the educational financial investment in compulsory education has increased by nearly 20 times. Judging from the contents of the report of the 19th National Congress of the CPC and the recent policy documents of the State Council, further consolidating the results of compulsory education and improving the quality of compulsory education have become the key tasks of the Chinese government in the next stage.
4. The Opening of “Window of Policy” and the Realization of the Convergence of the Three Streams
The “window of policy” is an opportunity for advocates of policy advice to come up with their most pleasurable solution, or an opportunity for them to get their particular problems noticed ( Kingdon, 1995). The opening of “window of policy” is usually due to the urgency event in Stream of problem, the “major event” in Stream of political, or the confluence of the three streams was opened. In this case, the combined effect of the three streams has opened the window of policy, with two focus events playing a leading role. After the “window of policy” opened, the active advocacy of key policy entrepreneurs played an important role in the final formal development of the policy agenda.
4.1. The Opening of “Window of Policy”: The Trigger Mechanism of Focus Events
The focus event policy agenda trigger mechanism is mainly centered on its “focus ability”, that is, the focus event actually harms the ability of the public and decision makers to pay attention ( Birkland, 1998). In view of multiple factors, The “Minor Female moral class in WenZhou” incident and the “Singer Sun Nan sending children to study Chinese learning” event played a vital role in establishing the policy agenda of this case. On the one hand, the fusion and superposition of a single focus event and other similar events will strengthen the focus and help decision makers redefine and interpret the problem ( Wang, 2009). According to the policy documents of general primary and secondary school enrollment (from 2017 to 2019), The change in the wording in the document from “highly concerned” to “seriously investigated and severely punished” shows the new understanding of the seriousness of the problem of “active dropout” of urban children by policy makers, and believes that strict measures should be taken immediately to control this. In December 2018, the Wenzhou Traditional Culture Promotion Association’s parent-child summer camp started classes. There were a lot of teaching content about “female virtue” in the video of the summer camp. This is in line with several previous incidents involving “female virtue.” The content is a serious violation of social morality. In particular, it was compared with the “Female virtue” incident in Fushun, Liaoning, which occurred a year ago. Both incidents directly involved the compulsory education group of school-age children and exposed problem include undocumented, unlicensed, false publicity, and illegal schooling. A series of incidents about “Female virtue” made policy makers realize that these institutions not only hinder the implementation of the national compulsory education system, but also seriously affect the growth and development of school-age children and adolescents. Immediate action must be taken against the phenomenon of “active dropout” To regulate. On the other hand, the more popular the focus events, the easier it is to integrate the public and media agendas, and the stronger the ability to focus ( Han & Wu, 2018). The focus event policy agenda trigger mechanism is mainly centered on its “focus ability”, that is, the focus event actually harms the ability of the public and decision makers to pay attention. In view of multiple factors, The “Minor Female moral class in WenZhou” incident and the “Singer Sun Nan sending children to study Chinese learning” event played a vital role in establishing the policy agenda of this case. On the one hand, the fusion and superposition of a single focus event and other similar events will strengthen the focus and help decision makers redefine and interpret the problem. According to the policy documents of general primary and secondary school enrollment (from 2017 to 2019), The change in the wording in the document from “highly concerned” to “seriously investigated and severely punished” shows the new understanding of the seriousness of the problem of “active dropout” of urban children by policy makers, and believes that strict measures should be taken immediately to control this. In December 2018, the Wenzhou Traditional Culture Promotion Association’s parent-child summer camp started classes. There were a lot of teaching content about “female virtue” in the video of the summer camp. This is in line with several previous incidents involving “female virtue.” The content is a serious violation of social morality. In particular, it was compared with the “Female virtue” incident in Fushun, Liaoning, which occurred a year ago. Both incidents directly involved the compulsory education group of school-age children and exposed problem include undocumented, unlicensed, false publicity, and illegal schooling. A series of incidents about “Female virtue” made policy makers realize that these institutions not only hinder the implementation of the national compulsory education system, but also seriously affect the growth and development of school-age children and adolescents. Immediate action must be taken against the phenomenon of “active dropout” To regulate. On the other hand, the more popular the focus events, the easier it is to integrate the public and media agendas, and the stronger the ability to focus. As can be seen from Table 2, the most influential event was the “Sun Nan’s child attending the Huaxia Academy” which broke out in the media in 2019. Due to the “celebrity effect” of the event itself, the number of reads on Weibo-related topics exceeded the sum of the other five focus events, and the event-related topics also topped the top search list of Weibo for a time, and its scope and degree of influence It is the largest in recent years. Therefore, with the government’s re-identification of the problem of “active dropout” of urban children and the influence of national focus events, the possibility of opening a “window of policies” has greatly increased. At the National Education Conference held in late January 2019, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng deployed the work of “striving for progress” in the education system in 2019, and included the controlling dropout into the focus of the “striving progress” for the Ministry of Education in 2019 jobs. This makes the new problem faced by “controlling dropouts for school guarantees”-the issue of “active dropouts” for urban children officially on the government’s agenda, and ranks high on the list of outstanding education policy issues.
4.2. Achieving the Third-Class Convergence: Active Advocacy by Key Policy Entrepreneurs
“Political leaders are at the core of decision-making systems, and they often play the role, and its policy recommendations can almost automatically be put on the government agenda” ( Park & Kim, 2005). This is even more so in the formulation of China’s public policies, the main leaders of the party and state It can be said that the inclusion of a social issue in the policy agenda has almost played a “final word”.
In recent years, important leaders of the party and the state have given important instructions in public to address the chaos in out-of-school institutions and the work of “controlling dropouts “.General Secretary Xi Jinping made it clear at the 2018 National Education Conference that “out-of-school training institutions must be managed in accordance with the law so that off-school training can return to the normal track of educating people.” At the executive meeting of the State Council held in mid-2017, Premier Li Keqiang put forward measures to prevent and control compulsory education students from dropping out of school, “to ensure that by 2020, the national nine-year compulsory education consolidation rate will reach 95%.” He also stated that “the government and all parties in society must be responsible for controlling dropouts. If the parents or guardians fail to send school-age children to school without justification, the government will order corrections.” Chen Baosheng, the newly appointed education minister, was in the fifth session of the 12th National People’s Congress said that one of the three issues to be solved is to include drop-out of compulsory education in the field of education to fight poverty.
At the National Education Conference held in January 2019, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng deployed the implementation of the “strike for progress” in the education system in 2019, and included the control of dropout insurance into the key tasks of the “strike for progress”. In March, Minister Chen Baosheng expressed his determination to remedy the chaos in the out-of-school training institutions in the fourth “Ministerial Channel” of the NPC and CPPCC. In addition, according to publicly reported data, in 2019, leaders of the party group of the Ministry of Education held a number of scheduling meetings and special meetings in the Ministry of Education to advance the work related to “controlling dropout insurance” and put forward clear job requirements. In the end, under the active initiative of the party and state leaders, the three major sources were formally merged, and the issue of urban children’s initiative to drop out of school officially developed a policy agenda. In April, a policy to solve the problems of replacing compulsory education with out-of-school training and obstructing the implementation of compulsory education through religious activities—”Several Provisions Prohibiting Obstruction to Compulsory Education”—was introduced in April.
In summary, using the Multiple-Streams Model to analyze the promulgation of the “Provisions on Prohibiting Obstruction to Compulsory Education”, we can draw the following conclusions:
1) In this case, the three source streams in the Multiple-Streams Framework interact with each other, and basically follow the development trajectory of “problem source—political source stream—policy source stream” in the backgruond of China ( Wang & Tang, 2019): In the development process, some places have encountered the social problem of replacing compulsory education with out-of-school training and obstructing the implementation of compulsory education through religious activities. This social problem has changed through indicators and data in the stream of the problem (the rebound of the gross enrollment rate in the junior high school stage and the special program for external training institutions The results of investigations and corrections), the cumulative impact of several major related events, and negative policy feedback (the teaching content of some off-campus training institutions seriously deviated from the socialist core values), which caused a large social response and made decision-making departments formulate a new recognition of the seriousness of the problem of “active dropout” among urban children, and it is believed that immediate action must be taken to control this phenomenon. Thereafter, members of the policy community within Stream of policy made comments on the issue through the media or directly submitted motion proposals on the issue at the “two sessions” to make policy comments and suggestions on the issue. Under the political environment of the “Public Nine” actively promoted by the party and the government, and the triggering of two national focus events, the three streams have merged, the window of policy has opened, and the active advocacy of key policy entrepreneurs has finally made this issue possible enter the policy agenda. With the above analysis, it fully illustrates the applicability of the revised Multiple-Stream model in the background of China.
2) The opening of “window of policy” about urban children’s “active dropout” is the unity of contingency and necessity. In this case, the opening of the policy window is inseparable from the triggering of two sporadic national focus events, as well as the political ecology of the “Public Nine” that has been actively promoted by the party and the government in a long period of political origin. Many times, the opening of the “window of policy” is not only the conversion of people’s livelihood demands to the policy agenda triggered by accidents, but also a kind of initial consensus on the point of interest between people’s livelihood and other stakeholders of the policy, thereby promoting a complete game of interest on the policy agenda. The process of opening the policy window is a process of interest consensus—interest game—agenda policy, Interest consensus refers to that people’s livelihood and other stakeholders reach consensus on interest points, and then they jointly promote the interest game to the level of agenda policies ( Tang & Zhao, 2012).
3) Key policy entrepreneurs actively advocated playing a huge role in the eventual establishment of the policy agenda. An important feature of China’s public policy development process over the past three decades: first carry out policy experiments in local areas, and then promote successful experiences to the whole country policy and promotion ( Heilmann, 2008). Whether at the central or local level, some entrepreneurial, experienced and powerful policy players have played an important role in driving policy change. In this case, policy entrepreneurs, who are high-level decision makers, have a huge influence on policy making. As core decision makers, their perception of specific social issues is directly related to whether to take action to solve them.
This article borrows John W. Kingdon’s Multiple-Stream Theory to provide a reasonable explanation for the policy agenda of “Several Provisions Prohibiting Obstacles to the Implementation of Compulsory Education”, which has certain significance for the localization of Multiple-Stream Theory. However, because the case study method is adopted, it is limited to only one field, and there is no standardized data method as the support. The research may have some randomness and subjectivity. Therefore, the related research on the localization of Multiple-Stream Theory needs a lot of and further research and exploration.
1Pu Jiu, which refers to the popularization of nine-year compulsory education.
2“Controlling dropouts” means to control the dropout and loss of students, to ensure that students enter compulsory education and receive compulsory education.
3“softening” in Multiple-Streams Theory mainly refers to preparatory work such as persuasion activities and policy advocacy actions carried out by policy entrepreneurs on the policy-making system. According to Kingdon’s point of view, “softening” has a long process, including floating thoughts, making motions, giving speeches, drafting policy recommendations, modifying motions based on reactions, and floating thoughts again. This process is an iterative process of continuously proposing motions, discussing, revising, and then proposing.
4The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2019, July 24). Statistical Communiqué on National Education Development in 2018. Ministry of Education website. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from: http://www.moe.gov.cn/jyb_sjzl/sjzl_fztjgb/201907/t20190724_392041.html.
5The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2018, May 25). Announce special governance of off-campus training institutions and introduce local experiences and practices. Ministry of Education website. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from: http://www.moe.gov.cn/jyb_xwfb/xw_fbh/moe_2069/xwfbh_2018n/xwfb_20180525/wzsl/.
6The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2018, December 12). Report on Special Governance of Off-School Institutions by the Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education website. Retrieved December 15, 2019, from: http://www.moe.gov.cn/srcsite/A06/s3325/201812/t20181212_363096.html.
7According to the “Statistical Report on the Development of China’s Internet in 2018” released by the Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the number of Chinese Internet users in 2018 reached 829 million, and the Weibo usage rate was 42.3%., The scale of use reached 351 million people.
8“two exemptions and one supplement” “One supplement” refers to the state’s comprehensive exemption of tuition and fees for students in compulsory education (primary and junior high school), free textbooks for students in rural compulsory education, and a subsidy policy for subsidizing living expenses for boarding students in financial difficulties in rural families.
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