More education spending an urgent need
- Source: Global Times
- [02:48 February 22 2010]
By Li Yanjie
A point has been reemphasized in the Ministry of Education's (MOE) work plan for 2010: Raising the proportion of government education expenditures to 4 percent of GDP.
The target is really not a new one. It was first mentioned in 1993 in the Guidelines for China's Education Reform and Development and was supposed to be achieved in 2000; that failed. Then, in 2006, it was brought up again in the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Devel-opment (2006-10).
Support for education concerns two parts: continuously increasing input and proper use of the money.
Four percent of GDP from government education expenditures is far from enough. The highest proportion of government education expenditure ever was 3.48 percent of GDP in 2008, while a popular research result says that public expenditure on education should account for at least 4.07 percent of GDP when the per capita GDP reaches $800-$1,000, as it did in 2003.
A report on the competitive strength of China's educational system by the China National Institute for Educational Research ranks China 29th among 53 countries. The top five are Singapore, the US, Finland, Denmark and Australia.
The statistics show that in 2006, China's per capita public expenditure on education was $42, while that of the US was $2,684, 63.9 times China's. China's per capita public expenditure on education only accounted for 0.82 percent of per capita GDP, while that of the US was 6.1 percent. Even Brazilians spent more than Chinese did, contributing 2.29 percent of per capita GDP to education.
Since the Industrial Revolution, economic growth has increasingly depended on the development of science and technology.
Education offers the chance for quicker development of science and technology. For a latecomer, promotion of education is the only way to catch up with the forerunners. The rises of Germany and Japan have proved this.
Chinese have always cherished education. The deficiency of the public expenditure on education means families have to spend more themselves if they want change their fates through education.
Surveys and reports indicate that expenditure on education has become a heavy burden to Chinese families.
A survey by Beijing Normal University shows that from July to December 2006, urban families spent 24 percent of their income on education, while rural families spent 20 percent.
Another online survey by the China Youth Daily and sina.com in 2009 showed that 74.7 percent of 2,157 respondents thought education expenditure was a burden that could hardly be accepted.
How money slated for education is used also attracts public focus.
The National Audit Office's report on the MOE's 2008 budget implementation, revenue and expenditures found that the ministry and one of its subordinate university misused 22.55 million yuan ($3.3 million) for certain projects to pay for unrelated expenditures.
Just a month ago, the report that a newly built primary school in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, worth 15 million yuan ($2.2 million), may have to be demolished because it stands in the way of a planned business district, led to public doubt over the local government's planning.
China needs to increase its financial support for education, and effective supervision is crucial, too.