"Indigenous Experts" and the Revolution in Agricultural Education
"Indigenous Experts" and the Revolution in Agricultural Education
"Indigenous Experts" and the Revolution in Agricultural Education
In a sense, the fighters with the most practical experience are the wisest and the most capable.
- MAO TSE-TUNG
Report of an Investigation
"Indigenous Experts" and the Revolution in Agricultural Education
Source: Peking Review, No, 51, December 20. 1968
"Hongqi" (Red Flag) Editor's Note: The following material gives a vivid description of the love the poor and lower-middle peasants have for "indigenous experts" and of the way the latter are trained. Now that the poor and lower-middle peasants are managing the schools, if every commune pays attention to training a number of its own "indigenous experts," the children of the poor and lower-middle peasants will not change in the way the saying has it: "The first year they are still country folk, the second year they become citified, and the third year they turn their backs on their parents."
“INDIGENOUS experts" are flowers that have blossomed in the course of the sharp struggle between the two lines; quite a number of young "indigenous experts" are good sons and daughters of the poor and lower-middle peasants. This affectionate name — "indigenous experts" — is used by the poor and lower-middle peasants of the Daxing People's Commune in Chingchiang County, Kiangsu Province, to express their admiration for those agro-technicians who are not divorced from collective productive labour.
Under the guidance of Chairman Mao's idea of proletarian revolution in education, the production brigades of the Daxing commune in 1958 set up many "red and expert" schools. The students were all local people who came from the production teams and returned to them later. They studied politics and received a general education and prepared lessons right in the fields with the poor and lower-middle peasants as their teachers.
According to incomplete statistics gathered at that time, the 20 production brigades of the commune trained a total of more than 150 "indigenous experts," who contributed immensely to the development of agricultural production.
While this contingent of "indigenous experts" was growing fast, Liu Shao-chi and his agents pushed the counter-revolutionary revisionist line of trusting in the "experts trained in foreign methods" rather than in the "indigenous experts." They spread such trash as "rely on specialists to manage agricultural production" and the slander that "clodhoppers" know nothing about scientific research. In a wild attempt to choke off the new-born contingent of agro-technicians at the very outset, they closed down all the "red and expert" schools and thus destroyed this soundly developing agro-technical force.
In his note of May 9, 1963 on "The Seven Well-Written Documents of Chekiang Province Concerning Cadres' Participation in Physical Labour," our great leader Chairman Mao pointed out in explicit terms: "Class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment are the throe great revolutionary movements for building a mighty socialist country."
This instruction of Chairman Mao's pointed out the orientation for mass scientific research. The whole commune promptly went into action and a network of mass scientific experimental groups was established, covering every production brigade and team. The "indigenous experts," who had been suppressed by the revisionist line, again became active. Great progress has been made in the past few years. The commune now runs an agro-technical station. Every brigade and team has its own scientific research group, 5 to 7 people to a brigade and 3 to 5 people to a team. The commune has a total of more than 800 agro-technicians. Nurtured on Mao Tse-tung's thought, this scientific research force has grown quickly. It has become all the stronger after being tempered in the struggles of the great proletarian cultural revolution.
"Indigenous Experts" Are Most Warmly Welcomed By the Poor and Lower-Middle Peasants
The "indigenous experts" are people who have boundless love for Chairman Mao, rich experience in practice and revolutionary enthusiasm. They are mostly poor and lower-middle peasants, revolutionary cadres and educated young people who have been tempered in manual work for several years. They are not divorced from physical labour and the masses and are no burden to the masses. They are technicians and Mao Tse-tung's thought propagandists as well as commune members. Quite a number of them are activists in the creative study and application of Mao Tse-tung's thought They are warmly welcomed by the poor and lower-middle peasants.
The hearts of the "indigenous experts" beat as one with those of the poor and lower-middle peasants. Whatever worries the poor and lower-middle peasants worries them too, and they think as the poor and lower-middle peasants think. They farm for the revolution and they have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the revolution.
In the summer of 1965, an insect pest attacked the young cotton shoots of the Songbofa Production Team of the "July 1" Production Brigade. Within a couple of days, 70 per cent of the cotton shoots on 13 mu of land were destroyed. Seeing the loss to the collective economy as patch after patch of the green cotton shoots died, the "indigenous experts" of the production team were very upset. For the cotton had been cultivated by the poor and lower-middle peasants in the sweat of their brow. "Indigenous expert" Hsueh Mei-fang was so worried that she wept. In order to find out the cause of the disaster, she and other "indigenous experts" spent several days squatting right beside the affected cotton plants as if they were nursing sick relatives. They forgot to eat and sleep as they made their observations. Finally they discovered that the damage was caused by weevils.
But when they went with the weevils they had caught to consult the agro-technicians of the county agro-technical station and the county agricultural bureau, much to their surprise, some of the agro-technicians put them off with: "This insect is not mentioned in the books," and "even if it were, it is no danger to cotton shoots."
The "indigenous experts" were enraged on getting such replies from these "experts" trained in foreign methods who showed no feeling for the poor and lower-middle peasants. They declared resolutely: "We'll handle this on our own! We must use the spirit of the Foolish Old Man who removed the mountains and wipe this pest out immediately!"
The race to save the crop was like a race to put out a fire. After repeated experiments, they succeeded in bringing the pest under control by applying benzene hexachloride powder and other materials.
Their experience was promptly popularized throughout the commune and the threat to the more than 2,500 mu of affected cotton shoots was removed.
An elderly poor peasant named Ku Ping-sheng said excitedly: "Every trade has its master, and Hsueh Mei-fang and her comrades are our poor and lower-middle peasant 'indigenous masters.'"
A comparison between two agro-technical stations also shows that the masses love the "indigenous experts" and dislike the intellectuals who delight in empty talk. One is the county agro-technical station equipped with tape measures, sprayers, balances and many other kinds of measuring and testing apparatus. The other is the commune agro-technical station which has neither equipment nor "foreign" technical literature. On the matter of division of labour, there is also a marked difference. The county agro-technical station has a minute division of labour with everyone looking only to his own specialty. The person in charge of cotton does not concern himself with rice cultivation and the one in charge of rice does not think about cotton. In the commune agro-technical station, everyone pays attention to the work as a whole, though there is some division of labour. When some of the agrotechnicians of the county station go out, they ride bicycles and carry tape measures with them. Here and there, they get off their cycles and do some measuring and calculating. "Those bike-riders can solve hardly any problems" was the popular comment. The "indigenous experts" of the commune agro-technical station have Mao Tse-tung's thought with them when they go out. They take part in the three great revolutionary movements of class struggle, the struggle for production and scientific experiment. They go to the fields to learn from the poor and lower-middle peasants and, their legs covered with mud, take part in labour, using both their lips and hands. When the time came to raise the rice seedlings last spring, those from the county agro-technical station just stood by the fields giving instructions and gesturing. They talked glibly about this standard and that standard but never did a thing themselves. When the poor and lower-middle peasants wanted them to show how, they were at a loss. The poor and lower-middle peasants described them as "farming with their lips." The "indigenous experts" of the commune were different. They went to the fields barefoot, joined the poor and lower-middle peasants in manual work and prepared the seedbed up to standard. The poor and lower-middle peasants said: "The 'indigenous experts' do as they say. What they say is easy to understand and their knowledge is readily available to us. The 'indigenous experts* are best able to meet practical needs and are most capable in solving problems."
The agro-technicians from the institute of agricultural science of the special administrative region were also unable to solve real problems. In 1967 two agro-technicians of this institute went to work for a time in the "July 1" Production Brigade. At first, the masses placed their hopes on them. But as soon as they arrived, they began to give instructions. They went round the fields but scarcely took part in manual work. When the cotton plants were forming bolls, the "May 1" Production Team's 40 mu of cotton urgently needed top-dressing because the ground manure was insufficient. But the two agro-technicians held that top-dressing would cause overgrowth, so they advised against it. The crop and soil fertility were similar in the Xuejia Production Team. Basing themselves on their practical experience in the past few years, the "indigenous experts" there were convinced that top-dressing was vital to ensuring early ripening, healthy growth at the late stage and high yields. They lost no time in leading all the members of the production team in giving the cotton crop a top-dressing of nightsoil. The result was that the per-mu yield of ginned cotton in the Xuejia Production Team was 35 jin more than that in the "May 1" Production Team. The poor and lower-middle peasants said: "The college graduates have the reputation but they don't know the nature of crops. If we farm as they suggest, we will get lower yields. The 'indigenous experts' are the same country folk as we are and we understand each other. They do just what they say and set us a good example. We welcome such 'indigenous experts.'"
Train "Indigenous Experts" and Raise Their Level in The Three Great Revolutionary Movements
Our great leader Chairman Mao points out: "Successors to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat always grow in great storms."
The following are the chief methods used by the Daxing commune in training "indigenous experts":
First. Boldly encourage the "indigenous experts" to take part in the three great revolutionary movements and to go into the thick of the class struggle so that they can be tempered and have rod hearts boundlessly loyal to Chairman Mao. Enhancing the proletarian consciousness of the "indigenous experts" and helping them to establish in their minds the correct political concept of farming and doing agricultural scientific research for the revolution are regarded by the poor and lower-middle peasants of the Daxing commune as a task of primary importance. Chu Yu-fen is an "indigenous expert" of the commune's agro-technical station. When, fresh from school, she began to work, she came book in hand and stuck to the foreign rules in it The more she studied, the more muddle-headed she became. The poor and lower-middle peasants reminded her: "You have been to school for more than ten years. You shouldn't hold on to your book knowledge any longer. You ought to study Chairman Mao's works hard, and temper yourself in manual labour." With the help of the poor and lower-middle peasants, Chu Yu-fen perseveringly studied and applied Mao Tse-tung's thought in a creative way and took part in collective productive labour. Through practice she raised her level of political consciousness and served the poor and lower-middle peasants conscientiously. She became an activist in the creative study and application of Mao Tec-lung's thought among the scientific research workers, who had emerged from among the masses, in the county and in the special administrative region. In the great proletarian cultural revolution, the handful of capitalist roaders in the Party created an evil anarchistic trend and instigated a few agro-technicians to abandon their duties in the agro-technical station of the commune. Immediately seeing through the plot of the class enemy to undermine production, she bravely shouldered the heavy work in the agro-technical station and energetically led the whole commune in making agricultural scientific experiments. As a result, she made great contributions. Following the establishment of the commune's revolutionary committee, Comrade Chu Yu-fen was transferred to work in the forefront of the struggle against the enemy, where she helped the units known for their "long-standing, big and difficult" problems to carry out the tasks of struggle-criticism-transformation. Praising such "indigenous experts," the poor and lower-middle peasants said: "With their faces suntanned, red hearts and a firm class stand, the 'indigenous experts' hold technical power firmly and well. Such technicians will truly serve the poor and tower-middle peasants."
Second. From the masses, to the masses; integrate theory with practice; "officers teach soldiers, soldiers teach officers and soldiers teach each other"; raise the technical level of the "indigenous experts" continuously in the practice of the struggle for production. There are three comrades in the commune's agro-technical station. Their main job is to work in the brigades, help them discover good examples, foster these examples, sum up experience and exchange and popularize it. In each season, the agro-technicians of each production brigade and production team study certain specific subjects related to current agricultural production. Last year some of the "indigenous experts" in the Liuxi Production Team of the Yuejin brigade studied how to grow azolla [a kind of green manure crop] in the summer and protect it in winter. They solved the problem which the "experts trained in foreign methods" had failed to solve. The commune immediately organized visits of other "indigenous experts" to the Liuxi Production Team to study its experience. The Liuxi "indigenous experts" served as teachers, while the other agro-technicians were their students. The riverside was their classroom. Finally all the "indigenous experts" in the commune mastered this technique.
Third. Adapt the experience of other localities to specific local conditions, carry out experiments and popularization. The germination of sweet potatoes by steam heat is a good example of this. At first some people did not believe in this method. The "indigenous experts" in Chuchiafa and some technicians from the county agro-technical station studied the problem and popularized their method of heating three beds of sweet potatoes with one steam apparatus. This saved both coal and manpower. The method spread fast and 42 stoves to provide steam heat were built in the commune. Comrade Chen Shan-teh, a technician who had graduated from a secondary technical school, sale!: "Practice is most important. People like us who went to the old schools must integrate with the 'indigenous experts' who have practical experience. If we do things this way we can accomplish something, otherwise we shall achieve nothing."
Fourth. The "indigenous experts" study the necessary agro-technical theories so that their practical experience can be raised to a theoretical level which, in turn, will help guide production. The agro-technical station of the commune frequently publishes and distributes scientific research material on agro-technique for the "indigenous experts" to study and use. The "indigenous experts" are trained by combining concentrated study for fixed periods with courses which are given now and then. Their instructors in theoretical knowledge in Agriculture are technicians in the county agro-technical station who integrate well with the poor and lower-middle peasants. Adopting these various training methods, the Daxing commune sponsored more than 350 on-the-spot lectures and demonstrations in the fields in the past four years. It trained a backbone force of technicians well tested in both ideology and technique. From 1964 to 1968, 38 "indigenous experts" of the Daxing commune were invited to help with technical innovations in seven counties, where they were warmly welcomed by the local people.
Orientation of Revolution in Agricultural Education As Seen From Growth of "Indigenous Experts"
One. The power in agricultural education and in agro-technique must be in the hands of the working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants. From now on, all agricultural colleges and schools should move to the countryside and be managed by the poor and lower-middle peasants. In the past, the power in the agricultural colleges and schools was in the hands of bourgeois intellectuals who exercised a bourgeois dictatorship and spoilt many children of the workers and peasants. There is a student in this commune who used to do all sorts of work in his production team-After he entered the agricultural college and was affected by bourgeois ideas, this poor peasant's son, suntanned and with a red heart, became a "dandy" divorced from the masses and from reality. The poor and lower-middle peasants said: "The first year after he went to college, he looked down on his former schoolmates farming in the home village; the second year he refused to recognize his parents; and the third year he was selfish from top to toe. It is just like 'flying a pigeon on a foggy day, it never comes back.' " Therefore, only when power in agricultural education is kept in the hands of the working class and the poor and lower-middle peasants, is it possible for education to serve proletarian politics and to be combined with productive labour, and to train and bring up large numbers of new-type agriculturists and agro-technicians who are both "red and expert."
Two. The agricultural colleges and schools should enrol students from among the "indigenous experts" who are red at heart, see things clearly, have calloused hands and muddy feet. The poor and lower-middle peasants said: "If such youngsters are selected for more advanced study, we'll be satisfied and easy in our hearts." As for the content of teaching, class struggle must be made the main course. Theory must be combined with practice and with the specific conditions of agricultural production in each area. The practical problems "indigenous experts" encounter on the frontline of production should be studied in schools and. elevated to a theoretical level. After one or two years of study in school, the students should return to production and they should be examined by the poor and lower-middle peasants before they get a diploma.
Three. The existing ranks of teachers should be thoroughly reorganized; they should be composed of poor and lower-middle peasants who have rich practical experience, "indigenous experts" and those intellectuals who have done well in integrating with the workers and peasants. The intellectuals should take the road of integrating with the workers and peasants, go down in turn to do manual work so that they are reeducated by the workers, peasants and soldiers and thoroughly change their old ideology.
('Hongqi," No. 5, 1968)
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