Provide Good Education for Each Children
    2014-03-06 09:31:04     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Wang

Lots of parents squeeze in to apply for a better school for their children. [Photo: Legal Weekly]

One of the central government's reform goals this year involves balancing education resources, meaning to ensure each child in China has equal access to the best education possible.

At the ongoing National People's Congress, the debate of how to do that is underway in Beijing.

CRI's Stuart Wiggin has more.

 

By 2015, the Ministry of Education wants all younger children in the country's 19 biggest cities to attend the primary school that's closest to their home.

The ministry's notice, issued last month, further states that 90 percent of middle school students in those cities should attend the facility closest to where they live.

Enrollment in nearby schools is quite common in western countries but it's far less common in China.

Ms. Gao, grandma of a six-year-old boy, says 70 percent of the pupils at her grandson's primary school don't live in the nearby area.

"The school has ten classes. Children from seven of them don't live nearby. Their parents paid 30 to 100 thousand yuan to select that school. Though we are lucky to live near a good primary school, I am also worried because the nearest middle school is one of the worst in the district."

Ms. Gao's view is not shared by Yuan Guilin, professor of education at Beijing Normal University. He says it is unnecessary to send children to a faraway school.

"Differences do exist among schools. However, in large cities, especially in Beijing and Shanghai, faculty members are of very high quality. A lack of correct publicity led to parents blindly believing in the so-called top schools."

By 2015, the Ministry of Education wants all younger children in the country's 19 biggest cities to attend the primary school that's closest to their home. [Photo: Xinhua]

But parents are hard to persuade. This has led to further problems, such as higher rents and traffic congestion around schools with good reputations.

Ms. Gao says a girl in her grandson's class rents a house nearby at a cost around 8000 yuan per month. In a similar area without a good primary or middle school, the rent is much lower, about 5000 yuan.

The decision to tackle reforms in the educational system came on the third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, where it was also decided to set up an exchange system.

It's designed to allow school presidents and teachers to work at different schools for a certain period of time.

Yuan Guili, the professor from Beijing Normal University, says that with the supply of teaching graduates outnumbering demand, schools in big cities could always choose the best.

Less qualified teachers will end up in small cities, towns and villages.

"The key task for the government lies in balancing education resources between urban and rural areas. Authorities at all levels are making efforts to support teachers working in less developed areas. Over the past one or two years, some county level authorities subsidized 1200 yuan monthly to teachers at remote schools, which has indeed attracted some qualified teachers to rural areas."

Hu Sishe, President of Xi'an International Studies University, is a deputy to the ongoing National People's Congress session. He agrees that the main gap in education resources distribution lies in rural areas. But he believes transferring good teachers from developed east China to underdeveloped west China is not a good solution.

"What we should do is to improve education in middle and west China through policies and overall planning, and let them catch up with the eastern part. The government must give more favorable policies, loosen the household registration control, increase teachers' income and improve teaching facilities."

Nearby school enrollment is the first step to balance education resources, and there is still a long way to go to ensure equal education access to each child, no matter where they live, whether they are rich or poor.

For CRI, this is Stuart Wiggin.

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