Can a New Education Law Save China’s Compulsory Education System?

From Caijing English Newsletter: “China passed its compulsory law in 1986, but the simple 18-article, 1,800-word law has not done enough for the country’s compulsory system, which covers students from grade one to nine. A 1992 reform of the law also did not improve the situation.

The chief fault of the law is its failure to define whether national, provincial or local governments should pay for education spending. The 1986 law vaguely stipulates that the government should be responsible for the operating expenses and construction investment needed by the education system, without defining who should pay. It has been a recipe for disaster. In reality, most of the burden falls upon poor farmers, who pay for the education system through agricultural taxes and educational fees. According to a 2002 survey by the State Council’s Development Research Center, below-county level governments pay for 78 percent of compulsory education costs, county-level governments pay 9 percent, provincial-level governments pay 11 percent, and the central government contributes less than 2 percent.

According to analysts, inadequate funding causes high dropout rates in poorer regions. The Ministry of Education estimates that about 7.17 million young people have not attended all nine years of compulsory education. Ding Yanqing with Peking University’s School of Education said the real number is more than 10 million. ”

The full article is here.

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