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A university where leadership is nurtured

A Hunan institution has a distinguished record in serving the nation, Zou Shuo reports in Changsha.

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-13 11:40

Hunan First Normal University, a renowned teacher-training institution in Central China's Hunan province, has been the focus of national attention following a recent visit by President Xi Jinping.

Established as Chengnan Academy during the Southern Song period (1127-1279), the university has a rich cultural legacy spanning centuries. Its distinguished alumni include numerous revolutionaries and scholars, among them, Chairman Mao Zedong, who spent eight formative years studying and working at the institution.

On March 18, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited the university during an inspection tour of Hunan. He toured an exhibition dedicated to Mao's youth and learned about the university's historical evolution and its exemplary utilization of resources related to the CPC's history.

Xi said that for a country to be strong, good education matters. He said that Hunan First Normal University is a perfect place to educate on patriotism and pass on the traditions of the Chinese revolution, urging efforts to protect the university's resources related to the Party's heritage and put them to effective use.

Hunan First Normal University has a rich cultural legacy spanning centuries and is known as the alma mater of Chairman Mao Zedong. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Luo Chengyi, Party secretary of Hunan First Normal University, says the president was moved by the university's motto, formulated by Mao, which reads "being the people's pupil before becoming their teacher".

Since the president's visit, the number of tourists to the university has more than doubled, according to He Zhongding, a guide at the exhibition hall.

Known as the alma mater of Mao, the university receives a large number of visitors every year, and saw 200,000 to 300,000 last year, according to the guide.

They are eager to pay tribute to the late Chinese leader and be inspired by him, he adds.

In 1161, Zhang Shi, a renowned scholar during the Southern Song period, founded Chengnan Academy, the precursor of the university.

In 1901, the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) implemented new policies to replace old-style academies with new schools. Two years later, Chengnan Academy was renamed the Hunan Faculty of Education and started to provide teacher education.

In 1949, it was renamed Hunan First Normal School, and in 2008, it adopted its current name, officially becoming a university.

After the old buildings of the school were destroyed in 1910, Kong Zhaoshou, then headmaster of the school, had new teaching buildings and dormitories rebuilt by simulating the style of the Tokyo University of the Arts.

During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), the school was destroyed again. In 1966, it was restored to its former appearance at its original site.

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