Shí nián shù mù，bǎi nián shù rén
Translation: It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to cultivate people.
Meaning: Investment in education is a long-term business.
This proverb derives from a story found in a book written by Guan Zhong, a politician and statesman during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BCE–476 BCE). He began to serve as Prime Minister in the court of Duke Huan of Qi in 685 BCE. He successfully helped Duke Huan amend his system of taxes and adopt many other reformative measures. Eventually, the state of Qi became the wealthiest and strongest state of the time. Guan Zhong’s philosophy was to nurture people. In his book, he wrote; “If you expect a harvest each year, grow rice; if you expect a harvest every ten years, grow trees; and if you expect a harvest in a hundred years, cultivate pools after pools of talented people. For rice can be ripe in one year; trees can grow up in ten; and the quality of people in a state can only be improved in a hundred. With high-quality people, a state can reap long-term benefits.”
This proverb highlights the importance of long-term investments in education.
|树||shù||to nurture, to cultivate (V); tree (N)|
|人||rén||person, people (N)|
|树木||shùmù||arbor, trees (N)|
|人才||réncái||talented or trained person or people (N)|
Deng Xiaoping understood the importance of long-term investment in education very well. Therefore, he started to send students abroad to study at the beginning of his economic reform.