Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Three goals set for China's rural education reform
China's Ministry of Education has set three goals to promote education reform in rural areas, said Minister of Education Zhou Ji Monday. County-level administration is a great breakthrough reform in China's rural education, which has not only solved a series of problems, but also offered new opportunities to rural students.
China's Ministry of Education has set three goals to promote education reform in rural areas, said Minister of Education Zhou Ji Monday.
The goals include: to promote nine-year compulsory education and to eradicate illiteracy among young and middle-aged people in the west; to improve the educational quality and reduce the number of dropout students in rural junior middle schools; and to cultivate rural schools into training bases to help peasants find or create jobs and become more affluent through compulsory, professional and adult education.
"We will first take measures to ensure the teachers' salary, the security of school buildings and the normal operation of schools, and eliminate random charging in primary and middle schools," said Zhou Ji, stating the concrete measures the Education Ministry will take to fulfill the goals.
The ministry will promote the development of professional-oriented adult education in rural areas, and to reform the system in employing primary and middle school teachers, he said.
Tools for remote education like the Internet and audio-visual equipment will be used to train teachers and to modernize the rural basic education, he said.
People in affluent areas would be encouraged to help poor students in rural areas.
Statistics show that in the west of China, 327 counties do not enforce compulsory education, with 60 counties failing to promote full primary school education, and 260 counties have illiterate young or middle-aged people.
County-level administration is a great breakthrough reform in China's rural education, which has not only solved a series of problems, but also offered new opportunities to rural students, the high-ranking official said.
Zhou said that China has so far offered compulsory education to 91 percent of its population, and lifted the entrance rate for junior high school to90 percent. The Chinese people have had an average schooling of eight years, surpassing the world average. However, China still had 85 million illiterate citizens, of which three quarters live in China's rural areas.
According to Zhou, in the past over 50 percent of rural education was financed by the central government, however, rural education mainly depended on town and village level administrations. This led to such problems as teachers' salaries being unpaid and illegal charges being levied against students, due to lack of funds and loose management.
In order to lessen the burden of Chinese farmers, China has launched a county-level administration mechanism for compulsory education in rural areas, with the county-level governments taking back management of personnel and finance. Funds for rural education are co-sponsored by the central, provincial, municipal and county-level governments.
Statistics showed by the end of this May, more than 98 percent of the Chinese county-level divisions have taken back the teachers' salary management, and 94 percent of them have taken control of personnel management.
County-level administration also boosted the public finance system, Zhou said, with an increase of budgetary appropriation in rural compulsory education to 99 billion yuan (about 11.97 billion US dollars) in 2002, from the original 43 billion yuan (about 5.2 billion US dollars) in 1997.
In 2002, transferred payment from central government to local government for rural education totaled 24.35 billion yuan (about 2.94 billion US dollars), which played a key role in guaranteeing salaries for rural teachers. The central government has also launched special funds for rural compulsory education with 9.584 billion yuan (about 1.16 billion US dollars), which is almost nine times of that of 1997.
Zhou said the rural population totaled 64 percent of China's total, while agricultural technology only contributed 40 percent to the production, which is half the figure in developed countries.