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DCUL initiative


To ensure the continuity of education, offered free online education for students in primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. 

DCUL implementation in Western China - Pingliang 

To start with, an online survey was conducted in late January about the learning conditions, tools and methods to prepare for DCUL implementation. More than 100,000 questionnaires were sent out to collect data. 

  • It was found that 5 per cent of students did not have the right learning conditions for DCUL as their parents’ mobile phones were out of date, or lacked storage space 

  • 76 per cent could only study via mobile phones as only 24 per cent of households had computers or tablets, which showed a big gap between western and eastern China; and 

  • 88 per cent of students would like to attend livestreaming lessons, while 12 per cent of students wished to study independently. It revealed that students lacked the capacity to learn through projects or independently.


Based on the survey data, three types of distance learning platforms were provided, including TV channels, online learning platform and live-streaming learning platforms. The feedback from users showed that the Master Teacher Classes offered by China Education TV Channel were very popular among rural students; the utilization rate of private learning resources (free during pandemic) was higher than that of the national resource platforms. 

It was anticipated by the local education bureau that equity issues might emerge, which could enlarge the gap between urban and rural students, high-performing and lagged-behind children, and increase the number of dropouts. To guarantee the quality and access to DCUL, the education bureau established a platform called PingliangDingtalk Smart Campus (PDSC) in cooperation with Alibaba (one of the biggest internet companies in China). All teachers and students were registered and trained on the platform. At the same time, class groups were set up to train teachers systematically in livestreaming instruction methods, assignment, student attendance, selection of course wares and editorial and application modules. Consequently, DCUL was implemented in an organized and united way in Pingliang. 


  • The large investments made in ICT infrastructure in recent decades made it possible to implement DCUL, especially in rural and remote areas. 

  • The needs of students in remote and rural areas and from poor families were considered in the provision of the DCUL.

  • The lower the level the resources were developed for, the more individualized they were. The topics covered in the learning resources are comprehensive, ranging from subject learning and labour education, to individual interest development, and physical exercise, which considered the full development of students as well as their physical and mental health. 

  • The quality and relevance of the learning resources and packages available had the biggest impact on effect of DCUL, as the more relevant the resources are, the more effective DCUL implementation is.

  • Teachers worked at the front line to facilitate DCUL. They encountered a large number of challenges, including new teaching models, a heavier workload to prepare online teaching plans, a lack of online teaching skills, digital skills and knowledge about various platforms, and psychological support for child

  • The quality of parental support made a difference on the effect of DCUL. Higher-income families were able to provide better support and learning environment for DCUL learning, while lower-income and rural parents often struggled in terms of digital skills, academic knowledge and psychological backing. 

  • Psychological problems stood out as one of the main challenges for DCUL when students had to study at home for months. Stress in the household, including intense parent-child relationships, generated psychological issues for children. Students were also anxious while being isolated, studying alone and adapting themselves from offline to online and vice versa. The government and education administration departments strived to provide guidance for teachers and parents through trainings, case study videos, lectures, and hotline service, etc. 

  • The cross-department cooperation within the government and the public-private partnership also contributed to the success of DCUL. With this initiative, China built the largest online teaching and learning community globally. To further improve its effect, it requires exploring new models that ensure learning is available everywhere and accessible at all times for all, in the same can-do spirit that led the world’s largest online education experiment during the height of the pandemic.

Read more about the DUCL project here

Research by CoLab; Packaged by CoLab; Used for Punjab education reform

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