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Education spending short of target

12-29-2011 15:22 BJT

The education minister announced yesterday that spending on education accounts for 3.66 percent of China's GDP in 2010, below the target set nearly two decades ago, while experts said the goal would be difficult to reach.

The figure rose by 0.07 percent compared to 2009, Minister Yuan Guiren said at a conference held by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Beijing.

Planned spending on education this year is 14.6 percent more than the amount actually spent last year, according to Yuan.

As early as 1993, the Chinese government set a goal for spending on education to account for 4 percent of GDP by the end of the 20th century. In July last year, the central government and State Council reiterated that the target would be reached in 2012, according to China Economic Weekly.

In 2007, China's spending on education accounted for 3.22 percent of GDP. The figure was 3.48 percent in 2008 and 3.59 percent in 2009, according to statistics from the MOE.

"Judging from the rate of the increase, it will be difficult to realize the goal by that time," Xiong Bingqi, an education expert with the Shanghai Jiaotong University, told the Global Times.

China's education spending is lower than that of the world average and of some developed countries.

According to a report released by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on June 14, OECD countries spent an average of around 4.6 percent of their GDP on education institutions in 2007.

Total spending on education ranged from above 5.5 percent of GDP in the Nordic countries to around 3 percent in Japan, Luxembourg and the Slovak Republic in that year. Denmark took first place with about 7 percent of GDP while the US spent about 4.8 percent, the report showed.

The proportion of China's fiscal revenue from GDP is lower than that of many foreign countries. China is a developing country that has many major challenges to face, a member from a national education reform group said in August, when asked why China was unable to reach the goal, China News Service reported.

However, education experts say China's government spending on education is far from enough. Without supervision from a national or local education funding committees, expenditure will depend on government officials' personal preferences, Xiong said.

"Education is a long-term investment that contributes less to GDP in the short term, therefore many officials want to invest more in infrastructure construction and highlight the economy rather than education, so that they can get more political credit quickly," Yuan Liansheng, a professor with Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times.

The minister's report said that China has established a system for aiding students who face financial difficulties, and it covers students from preschool to graduate school. "Basically, we can ensure that no student loses out on education opportunities due to financial difficulties," Yuan Guiren said.

But quite a few students drop out from school for various reasons, including financial problems, Xiong said. "Some parents are worried about the benefits of receiving higher education," he explained, adding that in some places a college graduate's salary is lower than a migrant worker's with less education.


Editor:Wang Xi |Source: Global Times

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