More money for education: Minister

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-25 07:07

China will gradually increase its budget on education to 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010.

Education will be given priority in public expenditure in the future, according to the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) on education development, which has been approved by the State Council.

According to the plan governments at all levels should ensure an annual increase in their budgets for education to meet the target of 4 percent by 2010.

The plan stressed that the education expenditure of governments should be approved by the local people's congress and be open to the public, a move to increase transparency.

Academics contend education budgets have failed to keep pace with the rapid economic growth of the past decade.

The percentage has hovered around 3 percent since 2000, far less than that of many countries.

Education accounted for 2.82 percent of GDP, or 516.1 billion yuan ($67.4 billion) in 2005.

But the figure dropped to 2.27 percent of GDP in 2006. The country's GDP was more 20.9 trillion yuan ($2.7 trillion) last year.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in March, Zhou Ji, minister of education, said it was a difficult task to achieve the 4 percent goal due to the rapid GDP growth. He pledged to deepen reform in the education sector to enhance quality-oriented education and make full use of the "limited education budget".

According to the plan, the country will open fewer new universities and colleges, and put more effort into optimizing their quality and distribution.

The country started to enlarge the enrolment of students for higher education in 2000, this led to a sharp increase in the number of universities.

China had 2,273 universities and institutes of higher learning at the end of 2005.

The plan on completion, expects 80 percent of students to be admitted to senior high schools. And one-quarter of high school students admitted to colleges after graduation.

To ensure every cent in education is well spent, the plan urged local education commissions to set up an evaluation system.

(China Daily 05/25/2007 page3)

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