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Ambitious education plan

Updated: 2013-12-06 07:19
( China Daily)

However underdeveloped a region is, schools should always get the most support so they can provide as good an education as possible to children, who are the future of a region.

And this is what the State Council intends to do. On Wednesday, it announced it will offer the utmost support for a fundamental improvement of teaching conditions in the underdeveloped central and western areas of the country. The aid will also be extended to poverty-stricken regions in other parts of the country.

In three to five years, school buildings that meet antiseismic and fire prevention standards will be constructed, basic teaching facilities, such as desks, chairs, books, experimental equipment and playgrounds, will be provided to meet the needs of decent education. Dormitories, toilets, canteens, drinking water facilities and bathrooms will also be constructed or improved to meet the basic needs of campus life for both students and teachers. Quality teachers will also be trained to improve the teaching quality in these areas.

Provincial level governments will coordinate the use of funds provided to implement the plan. The State Council requires that the money be spent in complete transparency, lest money is diverted for other purposes or embezzled or exploited in one way or another.

This plan should serve as an eye-opener and reminder to local governments and their leaders that sound education lays a solid foundation for long-term and sustainable economic development and social progress.

There have been reports about poverty-stricken counties that have built luxurious office buildings instead of allocating money to improve the miserable conditions of local schools. The central government plan should put to shame such local governments and their leaders.

Nevertheless, without a mechanism to place under tight supervision the entire process of where and how the money is spent, the special funds that will be allocated to implement this plan will likely be channeled to other areas or exploited by prefecture, county and township governments or embezzled by corrupt officials.

What is urgently needed are strict rules, and supervision to ensure their enforcement, to make sure the money is spent as intended.

(China Daily 12/06/2013 page8)