Spending on education
Updated: 2012-01-04 07:37
We share the resolve the minister of education showed in his report to the National People's Congress on Dec 28 that the country's financial expenditure in education should reach the target of 4 percent of GDP this year.
The expenditure in education from the central public budget reached more than 1.2 trillion yuan ($191 billion) from January to November last year, an increase of 25.8 percent compared with the same period the previous year. It was 1.5 percentage points higher than the increase in financial revenue during the same period.
But frankly speaking, besides increasing the expenditure, another stumbling block that is hampering the development of education is determining how to spend the money where it is really needed.
This was the consensus of opinion among education experts at a National People's Congress meeting on Friday.
China's education is unbalanced between the urban and rural areas. A lack of quality teachers for rural schools, those in underdeveloped, remote and mountainous areas in particular, has become a major obstacle that prevents rural students from receiving the same quality of education as their urban counterparts.
Even in urban areas, the distribution of education resources is unbalanced. Quality teachers are usually clustered in so-called key schools.
As far as occupational education is concerned, despite the increase of enrollment from 3.98 million in 2000 to 8.78 million in 2010 for medium-level occupational schools and from 1.3 million in 2000 to 3.1 million in 2010 for higher occupational schools, there is much to be desired in the quality of graduates and the widening gap between their skills and the needs of enterprises.
Rather than continuously improving the facilities and infrastructures of schools, much needs to be done to design the systems, which will make it possible for quality education resources to be shared by as wide a range of students as possible. Such systems should also facilitate the constant training of teachers so that the quality of the majority of teachers will be improved.
For example, a special subsidy should be given to those who choose to teach at remote rural schools and a rotation system needs to be established so that the best teachers don't teach just at one school.
The central government has done a great deal to solve the problem of unbalanced education, including allocating money to provide more than 16 million rural kids with a free lunch starting from last year and tilting its financial allocation in favor of the underdeveloped western and central regions.
What is urgently needed now is not policies but detailed schemes for the implementation of these policies. For example, we've been talking about all-round education for years and we've called for alleviating the burden on primary school students every year. But substantial progress has still to be made in these areas.
We need education experts to visit specific schools, in both rural and urban areas, for a reasonable amount of time so that they can determine where the real problems lie.
That is the way to prescribe the right medicine for what ails the country's education.