The Central Broadcast and Television University here is the People's Republic of China version of the open university found elsewhere in the world. Classes are given in the basic engineering courses -- math, chemistry, physics, -- and in English as a second language.
The program includes video lectures, textbooks, counseling, quizzes, and final examinations. Tuition is free, as it is at all. institutions of higher learning in China.
Six-hundred thousand enrollees make this the largest educational institution in the country -- regular universities boast only a few thousand, such as the 15 ,000 at Qingtiai (the MIT of China) or some 10,000 Beijing (Peking) or up to 5, 000 at the prestigious provincial institutions.
Admission to this TV education is by examination.
Of the total enrollees, 115,000 are taking a full prorgram, 310,000 are official auditors. The number who listen to the courses without enrolling is, of course, impossible to calculate.
After each lecture is prepared, it is reviewed by a committee of university specialists. Fifty minutes in length, the lectures are aired six days a week between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. on national television, whose regular broadcast hours are in the evening. Textbooks used are the same as those for regular university classes.
Enrollees listen to the lectures either at home, although television is not yet too widespread, in centers equipped for reception, or at their workplaces. Quizzes are assigned to each student. these counselors, about 20,000 in number, are chosen from universities or factories and are assigned to help students master a subject.
Final testing is done by the central university at the end of the term. Eighty percent of the students passed during the first year. At the end of the program a degree examination must be passed before a diploma will be issued. The program is now beginning its fourth year.
Some 150,000 of the students are secondary schoolteachers taking refresher courses. Other enrollees are technicalor factory workkers, office workers, Army people, and high school graduates still assigned to work in the country.
Families, respectful of education and proud of the prospect of having a member with a university degree, bend over backward to give the mature student the peace and quiet he needs to study.
Chinese articles on the students, just as in the West, play up the mother with infant-in- arms or the grandmother who excells in her studies.
This is a considerable change from the prewar years when Red Army men learned their Chinese characters from "flash cards" imaginatively tacked to back packs of the man ahead, or wives studied characters posted over the wa sh basin.