Legislature reviews education disparity
By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-27 05:23
China is revising the 20-year-old Law on Compulsory Education to narrow the
educational disparity between rural and urban areas, a step hailed by the public
as an important requirement for developing social equality.
The revised law, which was submitted for deliberation on Saturday to the full
meeting of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC),
focuses on establishing a mechanism for guaranteeing government investment in
The fees for compulsory education, which are provided by both central and
local governments, must be included in the government's yearly budget and be
increased gradually every year, according to Minister of Education Zhou Ji.
China currently has a compulsory nine years of education six years in primary
school and three years in junior middle school involving 177 million registered
The total government investment in compulsory education is insufficient and
payment of some teachers could be delayed, said Zhou.
Disparity between education in rural and urban areas is widening in some
places, he said in a speech delivered to legislators at the meeting.
In major cities across the country almost all school children are able to
complete their nine-year studies, but in rural areas, it is a different story.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education said that dropouts in rural primary
schools accounted for 2.45 per cent of the total number of rural students in
2004, while the dropout rate in rural junior middle school reached 3.91 per
The revised law stipulates that governments should increase investment in
schools in rural areas as well as urban schools with "weak educational
Teachers from urban schools are also encouraged to work in rural schools for
a certain period of time.
"China is now pursuing the establishment of a harmonious society. The
unfairness in the educational sector is one of the biggest challenges," said Wu
Quanmei, a junior middle school teacher from Yixing in East China's Jiangsu
"I hope the revised law will remind governments at all levels to pay close
attention to the problem and take practical measures to narrow the educational
gap between rural and urban schools," Wu said in an interview with China Daily.
She admitted that there was a long way to go before all children enjoy
educational equality in the country.
Besides the law on compulsory education, legislators also reviewed the draft
amendment to the audit law.
The NPC Standing Committee is expected to pass the revised Audit Law when the
four-day meeting is concluded tomorrow.
(China Daily 02/27/2006 page2)