The economic transformation launched in China in the late 1970s revealed capacity and knowledge gaps in many sectors. With increasing international and domestic investments in infrastructure in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a growing demand for hundreds of thousands of engineers and other personnel skilled in the areas of project management and procurement. To ensure balanced regional development, the Chinese government put a strong emphasis on large scale training of public officials from the provinces, particularly from the remote Western Region, aimed to provide them with access to the state of the art knowledge and learning facilities. Furthermore, as the health sector reform progressed, there arose a need in the government, hospitals and other public health institutions for training of human resources in health economics, health financing and research capabilities. In addition, since the early 2000s, the World Bank was invited to play a role in facilitating sharing China’s development experience with other developing countries in Asia, Africa and beyond.
In order to address the capacity constraints in the area of project management, the Economic Development Institute - precursor to today’s WBI - partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Tsinghua University in the 1990s to (i) deliver the Project Management Training of Trainers Program; (ii) establish the Network for Project Management Training; and (iii) launch the China Sustainable Procurement Program.
In 1991 the Chinese Government established the China Network for Training and Research in Health Economics and Financing. Initially, it was comprised of seven centers to provide training to government officials, conduct policy research, advise on policy reforms and provide a platform for technical dialogue.
The China Development Distance Learning Network (CDDLN) was officially launched in August 2004 to serve as a platform for managerial training of high-level government officials from the Western Regions. WBI provided financial and technical support to the creation and development of the CDDLN.
Finally, WBI has implemented the China-Africa Knowledge Exchange program which falls under three categories: the annual China-Africa High-Level Experience Sharing Program; workshops jointly organized with the Ministry of Commerce; and special initiatives driven by requests from MOF or other line ministries. In all of the WBI programs, the strong support and commitment of the Chinese government has proved to be a key success factor.
Project Management Training of Trainers Program (1994-1999):
- 18 “seed” teachers and 915 managers trained; and
- 33 training courses conducted.
China Sustainable Procurement Program (2003-2006):
- 11 “seed” teachers and 756 managers trained; and
- 18 procurement trainings conducted.
By 2009, some 10,000 practitioners enrolled in project management courses. The project management and procurement training contributed to the development of new rules and regulation governing public procurement, which in turn contributed to expanding international contractors in China.
China Development Distance Learning Network (CDDLN):
- The network covers 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China’s Western Regions; and has 78 local classrooms and 48 prefectural distance learning classrooms.
- The network can annually offer training for 23,000 participants from Western China, including 13,000 trained via real-time network and 10,000 through online learning.
- The resource pool includes 522 class hours of common courseware and 325 class hours of interactive courseware in English; additionally, it has capacity to develop more than 100 hours of network teaching courses every year.
- In the first phase (2006-2007), more than 70,000 people were trained.
- In the second phase (2008-2010), the Chinese government constructed more distance learning centers independently, which demonstrates sustainability of the network beyond donors’ exit.
- CDDLN currently draws nearly 100 organizations and 1,000 experts.
- In 2010, the NDRC announced initiating the third phase of the project.
China Network for Training and Research in Health Economics and Financing (1991-2003):
- 19 member institutions;
- 48 courses offered;
- 1,400 executives, 700 academics and 40 policy advisors trained; and
- Some courses adopted into the curriculum of some Chinese universities.
Sharing China’s development experience with the rest of the world:
- More than 200 public officials from 41 African countries and Cambodia participated in the various knowledge sharing events co-organized by WBI between 2008 and 2011;
- Participants felt that the exchange programs helped improve their ability to solve problems and “turn barriers into opportunities.” They acquired: greater skills in program and policy development; greater ability to transfer knowledge; greater insight into sector dynamics; greater professional enhancement in the area of institutional change; and greater insight into the pace and challenge of the reform process.
- The participants were enabled to apply the knowledge to a range of actions from organizing workshops, making presentations and preparing reports to developing policy recommendations, designing legal framework, and reviewing and implementing specific projects.