Achieving Universal Primary Education in China
- Executive Summary
- Statement of Issue
- History of Problem
- Critique of Current Policy Option
- Policy Recommendation
This paper explores China's trajectory towards achieving universal primary education by tracing the historical foundations of educational inequalities between rural and urban China to the period before the formation of the People's Republic of China, when the national government only supported national schools while the local communities supported village schools due to limited educational resources. In fact, before the founding of the People's Republic of China, the education policy in China was very backward, the ratio of employment for school-age primary school children was a meager 20%; this meant that more than 80% of the population was illiterate (World Education Forum). The prevailing national education policy requires that 4% of the country's GDP be invested in the provision of education, which is still below the world's average of 6%, but ironically, many provinces still struggle to hit this minimum target(China Education Center Limited para.1).
Consequently, inadequate funding, largely due to the difficult socio-economic as well as environmental conditions in a majority of the provinces (particularly those found in rural China) has been and still remains the greatest challenge in the push for universal primary education. As a way forward, the government of the People's Republic of China should explore alternative policy options including a central education-funding scheme, which will redistribute national resources to ensure equal provision of educational opportunities while ironing out the obvious educational inequalities between rural and urban China(Wang para.5-6).
[...] This long-term insufficient funding and neglect of education has left close to one-fifth of the people in China illiterate. As mentioned before, throughout the 80's and 90's, national funds mainly targeted to improve the education provision on China's east coast while local governments remained in charge of the local schools. Unfortunately, the local governments have traditionally diverted educational funds to other projects that promise to yield more returns on their investments thereby leaving the state of education at the local schools in such a horrible condition. [...]
[...] This however, has taken place within the shortest period. In fact is considered as China's most ambitious education year in its history, since it passed 16 laws related to education, of which the Compulsory Education Laws mentioned above is among them(Rong and Shi 109). There were also attempts to implement a nation-wide adjustment of wages for underpaid primary school teachers, as well as attempts to correct the disproportionate investment in basic schooling, which as have been mentioned, was too little. [...]
[...] Women are less likely to finish the compulsory 9-years of primary education compared to men. Of more than 2.7 million school-age children who do not go to school of them are female, while 765 of the 3 million that drop out of school are also women(Rong and Shi 113). The gender disparities are even worst in rural and remote areas. Critique of Current Policy Option The Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China (MOE) is the main agency responsible for the provision of education in China, and it is solely responsible for the regulation and coordination of the entire education system in the country, starting from the compulsory basic education, to vocational education, to tertiary education respectively. [...]
[...] As a way forward, the government of the People's Republic of China should explore alternative policy options including a central education-funding scheme, which will redistribute national resources to ensure equal provision of educational opportunities while ironing out the obvious educational inequalities between rural and urban China(Wang para.5-6). Currently, basic education system provides a 9-year universal compulsory education; however, according to its law on compulsory education, in those areas where more than 40% of the country's population lives, the age is 8-years. This implies that, all citizens must attend, at least 8 or 9 years of education. [...]