A national legislator has urged the central government to fulfil its commitment to education spending after earlier falling short on budget promises.
Legislator Zhou Hongyu said that he would put forward a motion at the pending session of the National People's Congress (NPC) China's top legislature urging the government to "make good its promise as soon as possible".
If the failure to fulfill the solemn commitment of spending 4 percent of national income on education, made 13 years ago, is to be repeated, it will surely make a "dent on government's credibility", he said.
"It all boils down to a resolve and recognition when it comes to realize the '4 percent goal'; financially speaking this is not a problem in China. "
China's GDP has grown by about 10 percent annually over the past four years. The proportion of China's public spending on education 2.87 percent of GDP in 2000 and 2.82 percent in 2005 is much lower than the 6 percent average of developed economies, Zhou said.
The government's educational expenditure lags behind some developing countries such as Thailand, said Zhou, who is also deputy chief of the Educational Department of Hubei Province in Central China.
Several days before the annual NPC gathering in March last year, Minister of Education Zhou Ji renewed the government's commitment to spend 4 percent of China's GDP in five years during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10).
Similar vows were made for the five-year timeframe in 2001, legislator Zhou Hongyu, said.
The legislator said that if China would earmark 15 percent to 16 percent of its annual financial revenue the world's average is 15-20 percent for education, the country would be well able to realize the goal of having the share of education budget account for 4 percent of its GDP by 2010.
This estimation was based on a moderate 8.8 percent of annual GDP growth anticipated for the years leading up to 2010.
Insufficient financial input, coupled with the imbalanced distribution of cash among different regions, has retarded the development of China's education sector and caused a raft of "crises", Zhou and some researchers said.
At least one-third of rural primary and high schools in western China do not have enough funds to purchase teaching materials, and many can not afford a decent laboratory, Zhou said.
The funding gaps have partly been blamed for a range of unofficial levies and charges by a host of schools, and caused many universities to operate in the dire red, he said.
Zhou said education spending should be guaranteed by law. He proposed making a special law on education budget.
Under the proposed law, the people's congresses at different levels would review and supervise the educational budget of local governments, he said.
Zhu Qingfang, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said increased expenditure on social development would ultimately pay rich dividends.
For example, Japan's rise has benefited from its spending on education 5 percent of its GDP when its per capita GDP reached $1,000. China's education spending in 2005 was less than 3 percent when per capita GDP was $1,700, Zhu said.
The former vice-minister of Education, now president of China Education Development Foundation, Zhang Baoqing, said: "The problem of education input would have been resolved if fewer express ways, fewer airports or fewer city squares had been built."
Source: China Daily