Education reaches 4% of GDP

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-11 0:53:01

Government spending on education finally reached 4 percent of the country's GDP in 2012, 19 years after the target was first set in 1993.

Minister of education, Yuan Guiren, announced the goal had been reached at a national education work meeting held on Wednesday, even though China's GDP for 2012 has not yet been officially released.

According to Zhang Ping, director of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's GDP is likely to surpass 50 trillion yuan ($8.03 trillion) in 2012, while a budget report by the Ministry of Finance in March last year showed that the central government had decided to allocate nearly 2.2 trillion yuan for education in 2012.

"Four percent is much lower than other countries and far from enough to support China's educational development," Xiong Bingqi, deputy chief of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times Thursday.

An outline for China's educational reform and development promulgated in 1993 said that national educational expenditures as a share of GDP should be increased gradually to 4 percent by the end of the 20th century. In 1993 education expenditures were only 2.77 percent of GDP and had only reached 2.79 percent by 1999.

Government spending on education last year was almost 25 times higher than it was in 1993 and it had almost quadruple since 2006.

A report by the Southern Weekly in 2010 said that the educational expenditures were 5.1 percent of GDP in many developed countries and 4.1 percent is less than what many developed nations spend on education. The global average is 4.9 percent of GDP.

"China hasn't paid enough attention to education and a functional committee to monitor education spending remains absent, which is why it has taken China so long to reach the goal," Xiong said.

The Guangzhou-based Nandu Daily reported earlier this month that local principles have been dismissed in Wuchuan, Guangdong Province, when it was revealed that students in some primary and high schools had to buy their own desks and chairs.

The report attracted attention of the provincial Party chief Hu Chunhua, who ordered a through investigation into the case, according to a previous Global Times report.

Some schools claimed that students have been buying their own desks and chairs for years, as the school-bought desks and chairs were worn out years ago and the schools are short of money.

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the National Institute of Educational Sciences, told the Global Times earlier that despite inadequate funds for rural education, local education authorities spend most of their budgets on elite schools while neglecting the less privileged.

"Governments should increase their spending transparency and apply democratic decision-making to make sure that the two-trillion-yuan education fund is spent where and how it is supposed to be," Xiong told the Global Times.

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