Scholars from Chinese and Russian normal universities in a panel session of the recent Sino-Russian Teacher Education Forum held in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As China and Russia mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, a Sino-Russian Teacher Education Forum was held at Beijing Normal University recently.

In 2014, the China-Russia Alliance of Normal Universities was established with the support of the education ministries in both countries.

At the start, six Chinese universities, including Beijing Normal University, East China Normal University and Northeast Normal University, and nine Russian universities including Moscow State Pedagogical University and Herzen University, were part of the alliance.

Two Chinese universities, Jiangsu Normal University and Jiangxi Normal University, later joined the alliance.

Over the years, many exchange projects, scientific research cooperations, competitions, forums and other activities have been held by the alliance.

This most recent forum was themed on the future of education, and delegates discussed future technology related to education, the comparison of management models and other issues.

Meanwhile, two important projects of the alliance are “Go to Moscow” and “Go to Beijing”.

“Go to Moscow” is a Russian competition set up in 2014, under which, students of universities in the alliance who score good marks get a scholarship to study Russian at Moscow State Pedagogical University.

In turn, the “Go to Beijing “project, which was set up this year, lets Russian students study Chinese at Beijing Normal University.

Communication between China and Russia in education has a long history.

Soon after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese higher education institutions invited education experts from the former Soviet Union to help Chinese teachers, develop curricula and formulate teaching systems.

“The former Soviet Union’s education model has had a long-lasting influence on China, and it has helped in building the framework for China’s teacher education in modern times,” says Li Zhibin, vice-president of East China Normal University.

Echoing this view, Alexey Lubkov, rector of Moscow State Pedagogical University, says: “We have many similar features when it comes to teacher training in Chinese and Russian higher education.”

When it comes to the aims of this alliance, Zhou Zuoyu, vice-president of Beijing Normal University, says, “Since we established the alliance, we’ve set specific goals for each period of time. However, the main intention of our efforts is to promote communication, deepen understanding and discuss common problems. This feedback is beneficial for our educational reforms.”

As for Lubkov, he says: “Targets are like the horizon. The closer you get the more you will find they always remain ahead of you.

“We have achieved some short-term goals over the past five years, and hope to deepen integrated development, do some scientific research programs and cooperate to run some colleges in the next five years.”

According to Zhou, currently there are quite a few educational alliances, several of which have been joined by Beijing Normal University. Among them, this one works especially well, since China and Russia enjoy a “good relationship” and have a “shared eagerness” to promote communication.

“Our frequent contact has deepened mutual understanding, and has made many of us friends,” says Zhou.

“This alliance can be regarded as a model of educational, academic and emotional communication and friendship.”