In the next 10 years, what kind of education equality should we pursue? During the first National Education Conference in Beijing, which concluded on July 14, this topic aroused hot debate among participants.
What are people’s expectations for schooling? How can we improve the quality of education? And which factors have affected the implementation of education equality? With these questions, our reporter conducted telephone interviews with participants, experts, as well as ordinary people.
The differences may lie in different perspectives, which also might hold true for the expectations towards the implementation of education equality and the hope of moving towards education reform and development.
Preschool children find it difficult to enter kindergarten. Children of migrant workers find it difficult to enter schools in the city where their parents work. The action of schools not accepting certain students remains a problem despite repeated orders to ban it. To solve these “old troubles” in the implementation of educational equality, the key is to enhance the strength of Party committees and the government at all levels, as well as enriching educational resources.
Guo Jinlong, the mayor of Beijing, said during the conference that Beijing is carrying out a social survey on the demand for nurseries and the accepted capacity of kindergartens. Currently, government efforts to develop public kindergartens have been approved. In 2010, Beijing invested 30 million yuan to add 300 classes and 60 million yuan in order to reconstruct or extend 30 kindergartens, and will establish 30 kindergartens with nearly 20,000 newly available slots. In the next three years, Beijing will also establish 118 public kindergartens.
Except for Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Liaoning, a dozen provinces, regions and cities have set up special funds for preschool education. Some places strictly manage the registration, fees and quality of private kindergartens, and help to improve the education quality of private kindergartens through supportive measures such as allocating funds for each student and providing free training for teachers. Many places also improved the professional standard of preschool teachers by solving problems such as the general treatment of preschool teachers, as well as strengthening the training that teachers receive.
Statistics show that in 2009, 50.9 percent of children from three to six years old entered kindergartens and 74 percent of five-year-olds entered kindergartens in China.
In regards to the education problem facing migrant workers’ children, Guo said that migrant workers have made significant contributions to Beijing’s development while their children’s education remains a big problem. In this spring, 410,000 migrant workers’ children entered schools in Beijing. As schools in the area where the urban and rural areas meet are basically full, in the future the key is to solve this problem.
Good news is frequently released during the National Education Conference. In order to ensure that every child has a “fair opportunity,” all parts of China are accelerating the solutions to education and settlement-related problems facing the children of migrant workers. In 2009, four-fifths of the nearly 10 million migrant workers’ children that are of the age to receive compulsory education entered public schools in China.
Scientific and ordered reform was further promoted: the balanced compulsory education development incentive mechanism was established in Beijing, Henan, Sichuan, Shanxi, Liaoning, Guangxi, Henan and Anhui provinces, mobilizing the government at the county level to increase investment, and promoting the balanced development of the compulsory education system in counties. Jiangsu Province will launch the construction of a high quality compulsory education system, promote balanced reforms and develop a demonstration zone this year, transferring it from a basic level of equality to a high level of equality in three years.
Innovative and developmental reform is proceeding: Shanghai is pushing the standard and uniformity of teacher’s income in order to solve the big gap that exists between teaching levels in the compulsory education system in cities and suburbs. Hai Zheng, mayor of Shanghai, hopes that this move will spur excellent teachers to move to more rural schools.
Tianjin set up a unified construction standard for compulsory education schools. Mayor Huang Jianguo believes that every school can reach the modernized standard for compulsory education in 2012.
Facing a bright blueprint and a great journey in the future, deputies express that they will make great efforts with firm resolve.
The meeting, which is held in midsummer, is full of vitality, just like the season.