Nankai School: A seed planted 100 years ago, now a towering tree
By Jia Hongxia
01:22

During the Two Sessions which have just concluded, issues related to "accelerating the modernization of education and building the country into a strong educational power" drew broad discussions and attention from across the country. 

There were similar scenes 100 years ago, but in much more severe circumstances, when the country's very existence was at stake. People from all walks of life were struggling to find a way to save the nation. After many setbacks, they finally settled on education as the solution. This resulted in new schools being established one after the other. The most famous of them was Naikai.

Students on the campus /CGTN Photo

Students on the campus /CGTN Photo

A century ago in Tianjin, Yan Xiu, then a civilian official of the Qing Dynasty, was determined to not only open a private middle school in his hometown but to make it a model for other middle schools to follow. Zhang Boling was a naval officer struggling to find a way to do something for his beloved but devastated country. 

The year 1904 was a dark period in China's history, which would see these two men meet and change the course of history. With the same objective in mind, they launched their bid to set up the first Nankai School. Later on, more Nankai schools were opened. 

A playground /CGTN Photo‍

A playground /CGTN Photo‍

Going forward, their next move was to establish a modern university. For this purpose, the 41-year-old Zhang Boling traveled across the ocean to the United States to study the world's most advanced education theories. Yan Xiu, 57, also visited the country to learn about modern education. At a small restaurant in this foreign land, the two drew up the blueprint of a university that would go on to become one of the most prestigious educational institutions in China: Nankai University.

This year, Nankai University will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The seed planted 100 years ago by two academic warriors has now grown into a towering tree. Looking back, we pay tribute to these two ordinary but great men for their efforts, and to those who struggled to save and build the country. In our gratitude, we cherish the hard-won peace that we have today. We invite you to do the same and join us for Nankai  a School's Odyssey on March 16 on CGTN Documentary.