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Part I Descriptive Section


This report was prepared to meet the needs of the Second World Conference on Education for All in accordance with the suggestions given in the Technical Guidelines for the EFA 2000 Assessment prepared by the International Consultative Forum on Education for All and with the assistance and support given by representatives of UNDP, UNESCO, UNFRA, UNICEF and the World Bank in Beijing. Its main purpose is to provide a complete account of the progress of EFA in China with reference to predetermined targets since the 1990 Jomtien Conference.

Sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, a China EFA Assessment Coordination Committee was established to organize, direct and coordinate the work of assessment so as to effectively carry out the task of assessment. Members of the Coordination Committee include: the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, MOE's Department of Development and Planning, Department of Basic Education, Department of Finance and the Inspectorate Office, the Committee for Women and Children under the State Council, the State Development Commission, the State Statistics Bureau, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, the Children's Foundation of China, the China Democratic League, as well as officials from the offices of representatives of the following IGOs: UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, and the World Bank. Under the Coordination Committee was an assessment technical sub-group responsible for the collection of data and the drafting of the report.

The outline of this report was prepared with reference to the Technical Guidelines for the EFA 2000 Assessment prepared by the EFA Forum, the 18 core EFA indicators, and the requirements for drafting the report and in the light of China's realities. The Report comprises five chapters. Chapter 1 focuses on the main actions for EFA taken in China since the 1990 Jomtien Conference. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 deal respectively with a description and assessment of China's efforts in improving access to education (including an analysis of the effectiveness of educational provision and the performance of students), in meeting the learning needs of adults, and in improving early childhood development programs. Chapter 5 covers three aspects: (1) a brief and general assessment of China's EFA efforts in the 1990s, (2) an analysis of the challenges faced, (3) a brief summary of the developmental strategy, goals and policy measures to be taken in promoting EFA in China in the early years of the 21st century in the light of the Fifteenth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the following important official documents: the Action Scheme for Invigorating Education Toward the 21st Century formulated by MOE and approved by the State Council, the Decision on Speeding up Educational Reforms and Promoting EQO Education in a Comprehensive Way jointly made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.

Although China has developed a fairly complete system of statistical work and a complete set of regulations and procedures for statistical work throughout various levels of government, and data of educational statistics are regularly collected, in the course of drafting this report we are still handicapped by the the inadequacy of data related to some aspects of education. The more important shortcomings are as follows: (1) among the 18 core indicators suggested by the EFA Forum, we have not collected data concerning primary grade 1 pupils, such as: percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organized early childhood development programs, gross intake rate, net intake rate, and, besides, we have not collected data on the performance of pupils; (2) China's population census has not periodically released population data disaggregated by different stages of schooling, population data disaggregated by provinces, and data on disabled children and youth, creating great difficulty for computing and assessing the enrollment ratios at the lower secondary stage by province, for computing the 15-24 year old population and the illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged adults as defined by our regulations, and for computing the enrollment ratios of disabled children and youth; (3) the data released by various statistical yearbooks only provide educational information disaggregated by levels or types of education without the foundation data, therefore it is very difficult to regroup these data to meet the needs of analysis. Inadequate data give rise to lack of systematic description of some issues and constitute the main cause of lack of in-depth analysis and assessment.

In drafting the report, references have to be made to a large quantity of numerical data and official documents. Quotations from official documents are given their sources in appropriate places. The numerical data cited from relevant bulletins, newsletters, and special studies are given their sources in the text, and data especially collected for this report are identified as such. Data on educational development are mainly taken from the Educational Statistics Yearbook of China edited by the Department of Planning and Construction of SEdC/Department of Development and Planning of MOE or are provided by the Educational Management Information Center (EMIC) of MOE, and the data on educational expenditures are mainly taken from the Annual Statistics on Educational Finance prepared by SEdC's or MOE's Department of Finance, and the China Statistics Yearbook edited and published by the State Statistics Bureau. Data related to population and illiterates are mainly taken from China Population Statistics Yearbook edited and published by the State Statistics Bureau. These sources are all publications openly published by governmental agencies, and the data given therein are of higher reliability, and their sources are usually not given in order to save space.

Several schemes had been proposed for the proper division of this report into chapters and sections. One of them suggested that the assessment be conducted according to the 18 core EFA

Indicators one by one, another suggested that the assessment be conducted according to the six objectives listed in section 8 of the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs adopted by the WCEFA one by one. However, we have to compare the merits and demerits of conducting assessment following the sequence of the 18 core EFA indicators or the sequence of six objectives against the description and analysis of the actions, practices, experiences, weak links and outstanding issues in EFA around common themes. Finally we decided to address common themes in a relatively concentrated manner (Actions, practices, experiences and weak links are concentrated in Chapter 1 and outstanding issues are concentrated in Chapter 5), and leave the more specific problems to be addressed in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 in connection with relevant indicators. Our purpose is to avoid excessive repetitions and to present a fairly complete picture on the actions taken, progress made, and issues outstanding, and future prospects of development. Obviously, this treatment engenders inconveniences in understanding the causal relationships between various indicators. In reading this report our readers are advised to make cross references to materials given elsewhere.

Annex: the Core EFA Indicators suggested by the EFA Forum:

Indicator 1: Gross enrollment in early childhood programs expressed as the official age-group concerned.

Indicator 2: Percentage of new entrants to primary grade 1 who have attended some form of organized early childhood development program.

Indicator 3: Apparent (gross) intake rate: new entrants in primary grade 1 as a percentage of the population of official entry age.

Indicator 4: Net intake rate: new entrants to primary grade 1 who are of the official primary school entrance age as a percentage of the corresponding population.

Indicator 5: Gross enrollment ratio.

Indicator 6: Net enrollment ratio.

Indicator 7: Public current expenditure on primary education a) as a percentage of GNP; and b) per pupil, as a percentage of GNP per capita.

Indicator 8: Public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education.

Indicator 9: Percentage of primary school teachers having the required academic qualifications.

Indicator 10: Percentage of primary school teachers who are certified to teach according to national standards.

Indicator 11: Pupil-teacher ratio.

Indicator 12: Repetition rates by grade.

Indicator 13: Survival rate to grade 5 (percentage of a pupil cohort actually reaching grade 5).

Indicator 14: Coefficient of efficiency (ideal number of pupil years needed for a cohort to complete the primary cycle, expressed as a percentage of the actual number of pupil-years.

Indicator 15: Percentage of pupils having reached at least grade 4 of primary schooling who master a set of nationally defined learning competencies.

Indicator 16: Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds.

Indicator 17: Adult literacy rate: percentage of the population aged 15+ that is literate.

Indicator 18: Literacy Gender Parity Index: ratio of female to male literacy rates.


The Objectives and Measures of EFA

When the world community is entering the last decade of the 21st century, we are faced with an unprecedented crisis… We deem it that even at this moment of crisis, it is undoubtedly feasible to make globally concerted efforts to satisfy the learning needs of children and adults, that is, education for all.

—Letter of invitation of the four international organizations sponsoring the conference

1.1 World Conference on Education for All

The World Conference on Education for All--Meeting Basic Learning Needs, held at Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9 March 1990 was convened and sponsored by UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the World bank. The conference brought together some 1500 participants from over 155 countries and areas, and a large number of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The Chinese Government sent a delegation headed by Mr. Li Tieying, State Councilor and concurrently the Minister in charge of the State Education Commission, to attend the conference.

The World Conference on Education for All consisted of the following four components: plenary sessions, 24 illustrative round tables, 23 thematic roundtables, and an exhibition. Two historic documents were adopted by the conference, namely, the World Declaration on Education for All, and the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs, being the most influential outcomes of the conference.

With the advent of the 1990s and in the face of outstanding issues encountered by mankind today, such as population explosion, environmental degradation, poverty and unemployment, ethnic contradictions and regional conflicts, and so on. The United Nations has convened a series of important world conferences to address them, such as the World Population Conference, the World Conference on Environment and Development, the U. N. Conference on Women, and World Summit. Although the problems and issues addressed by these conferences are different. They invariably regard education for all (EFA) as an important means to achieve the end of each of them. The "basic objectives" and "medium term objectives" proposed by the conference (See Box 1.1) were universally upheld and affirmed by the governments of various countries and intergovernmental organizations, creating extensive impact around the world. In China's setting, besides efforts directed to deepening the awareness of the EFA campaign among governmental officials and the common people and to finding appropriate approaches to EFA, the most significant impact of the conference has been the sense of urgency, motive force, and vitality generated by the conference on our own programs of implementing 9-year compulsory schooling and eradicating illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults.

Box 1.1

It is desirable that all countries concerned should set their targets for the 1990sIn the light of the following recommendations:

(1) To expand the activities related to the care and development of young children, including the participation of the community and the families, especially the activities catering to the care and development of poor children, disadvantaged children, and the disabled children;

(2) To universalize by the year 2000 complete primary education (or any higher level of education deemed "fundamental");

(3) To enhance learning achievement so that an agreed percentage of a suitable age cohort (e.g., 80% of the 14-year age cohort) may reach or exceed the standards set for scholastic achievements;

(4) To reduce adult illiteracy rates (for an age cohort to be determined by each country concerned) to a level, e.g. 50% of that of 1990 by the year 2000;

(5) To expand the provision of basic education and the training of other necessary skills, and to assess the effectiveness of the programs in the light of the changes of behaviors brought about, and their impact on employment and productivity;

(6) To enable individuals to acquire a greater amount of knowledge and skills and values needed for a better life and sustainable development through the mass media and modern or conventional means of communication, as well as through social actions and employment, and to assess their feasibility in the light of the behavioral changes brought about.

Excerpts from the Framework of Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs.

1.2 China's National Conference on Education for All

The Chinese mass media extensively covered reports on the convention of the conference and on its proceedings and final outcomes. In the same year the State Education Commission (SEdC) convened a national conference on rural education, and an important end of which was to inform the participants of the proceedings of WCEFA and of the two documents adopted by WCEFA: the World Declaration on Education for All, and the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs. On March 1, 1993, the Chinese government convened a National Conference on Education for all in Beijing with a view to enhancing the awareness of EFA and extensively mobilizing all quarters of society and the populace at large to support the cause of EFA and take part in its activities. The conference was chaired by Mr. Li Tieying, State Councilor, and concurrently the minister in charge of SedC. Premier Li Peng delivered a speech in the conference (See Box 1.2). Two thematic reports on the "Current Situation of Basic Education in China and the Strategy of Development" and the "Current Situation of Literacy Education in China and Future Prospects" were made by vice ministers of SEdC Messrs. Liu Bin and Wang Mingda respectively. Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General, UNESCO and Mr. James P. Grant, Executive Director, UNICEF also spoke at the conference. The ministers of education of Brazil and Pakistan, the vice minister of human resources development of India, the secretary of education and youth development of Nigeria were invited to attend the conference. This conference constituted a significant response made by the Chinese government to WCEFA, and CCTV made a live broadcast of its opening and final sessions, and the media extensively covered its work, creating significant impact and winning the commendations of all quarters of society and of the international community.

Box 1.2

Excerpts from the speech delivered by Premier Li Peng on the National Conference on Education for All

The development of education is a fundamental matter with a bearing on the prosperity and strength of the country, on the advancement of human civilization and on social progress. Basic education is the foundation of the entire edifice of education. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to the educational undertaking. At the 14th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party recently convened, it was once more stressed that education should be accorded high priority in our program of national development, and accordingly the guiding principles, policies and targets of educational development were delineated. ....To energetically strengthen basic education was emphasized again.

China is the most populous country in the world. We are fully aware that in our common endeavor to promote education for all, we shoulder heavy responsibilities and face immense challenges.

The last eight years of the 1990s constitute a crucial period for the realization of China's strategic objectives for economic and social development, and at the same time a decisive stage in our effort to attain the goals set for basically universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling and basically eradicating illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults. And it is imperative to adhere to and constantly improve the management structure of education, in which the responsibility of developing basic education lies with local authorities with suitable division of responsibilities among governments of various levels; with regard to educational financing, it is imperative to adhere to and constantly improve the educational fiance system in which governmental allocations are the main source but to be supplemented by funds raised through multiple avenues. It is imperative to adhere to and constantly improve the system of educational inspection exercised at various levels. In rural areas, governments at various levels, especially those at the county and township levels, should continue to endeavor to integrate educational development with the development of the rural economy, and with the popularization of S&T achievements by a well-coordinated approach. Within the educational sector, an integrated approach should be taken to pool the resources of basic education, vocational education and adult education to their mutual advantage.

1.3 Determining Objectives for Development and Crietria for Acceptance

1.3.1 Objectives of Education for All

The objectives to be attained in EFA during the 1990s find their expression mainly in the following documents.

The Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China (issued in 1993) set the general objectives of educational development during the 1990s as follows:

--Basically universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling in the whole country;

--Basically eradicating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged adults by reducing the illiteracy rate among the 15-45 age group to under 5%;

--In large cities efforts should be made to basically meet the needs of young children for preschool education, and steps should be taken to energetically develop one year pre-primary education in rural areas;

--Due attention should be given to the education of ethnic minorities and to the education of the disabled;

--Rural adult education should be energetically developed by running well the existing cultural and technical schools for adults in rural towns and townships, and by a proper integration of cultural education with vocational training in an endeavor to raise the quality of the rural work force.

The Suggestions of the State Council on the Implementation of the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China (issued in 1995) further clarifies the following points:

"Basically universalizing 9-year compulsory education in the country" (including vocational education at lower secondary level) means that the enrollment rate of primary school-aged children will reach at least 99% by the year 2000. And the gross enrollment rate of school age children at the lower secondary stage will reach 85% or so, and the goal of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling will be attained in areas inhabited by 85% of the nation's population.In poor areas inhabited by 10% of the nation’s population, main efforts wil first be directed toward making 5-6-year primary schooling universal, and in extremely poor areas inhabited by 5% of the nation’s population, main efforts will first be directed toward making 3-4-year primary schooling universal.

The Ninth Five-Year Plan for Educational Development and the long Range Development program Toward the Year 2010 gives specific targets for the development of preschool education, for 9-year compulsory education, and for literacy work and cultural and technical training for adults (See Box 1.3)

-- Efforts should be made to reduce the drop-out rates of primary and lower secondary school pupils to less than 1% and 3% respectively and to further narrow the gaps in enrollment ratios between girls and boys, between rural and urban areas, between poor and developed areas, and between areas with compact settlements of ethnic minorities and other areas. More learning opportunities should be provided for the disabled children and teenagers. With respect to preschool education, efforts should be made to increase gross enrollment ratios of the 3-5 age group in kindergartens (including pre-primary classes) to more than 45%, with rural pre-primary classes and final year kindergarten classes enrolling about 60% of the corresponding group.

--Efforts should be made to enable 4 million illiterates to attain minimum literacy each year, and to reduce the rates of relapse into illiteracy among the neo-literates to 5%, and thereby reducing illiteracy rates among the young and middle-aged adults to less than 5% by the year 2000.

--Greater progress should be made in the development of vocational training and continuing education through the joint efforts of vocational training institutions, vocational schools of various types and levels, adult schools, and the distance education programs provided by radio and television broadcasts, satellite-transmitted educational TV programs and correspondence education.

Box 1.3 Targets of EFA to Be Attained by 1991

Number of kindergartens: 164,000

Total enrollment: 22,100,000

Enrollment ratio of the 3-5- age cohort: 29.9%

Total primary enrollment: 127,000,000

Gross enrollment ratio: 110.0%

Net enrollment ratio: 97.0%

Percentage of qualified primary teachers: 80.7%

Popularization ratio (in terms of population coverage ratio)

Total lower secondary enrollment: 40,085,000

Gross enrollment ratio: 69.7%

Percentage of qualified teachers: 46.6%

Illiterate Population 15 years of age and over: 182,000,000 *

Illiteracy rates of population 15 year old and over: 22.27% *

Illiteracy rates of young and middle-aged adults (15-40): 10.4% *

* Based on 1990 data.

1.3.2 Quality standards of work related to universalizing 9-year compulsory education and literacy work

On September 24,1994 SEdC issued the "Regulations on Standards Related to the Acceptance of Compulsory Education Achievement", which set forth the requirements for educational finance and quality of education, and among the requirements for enrollment ratios and other relevant indicators are the following provisions:

--Enrollment ratios. At the primary stage, all school-age children can attend school. At the lower secondary stage, all school-age children in urban areas and in counties of economically developed areas can attend school, while in the other counties the enrollment ratios should reach 95%. With respect to the school attendance of the disabled children, the enrollment ratios in urban areas and developed rural areas should reach 80% or so, and in the less developed rural areas (counties)--60% or so.

--Drop-out rates. For students enrolled in primary and lower secondary schools, the drop-out rates in economically developed urban rural areas should be controlled under 1% and 2% respectively, while in other urban and rural areas, these rates should be controlled under about 2%(?) and 3% respectively.

--Completion rates. Among the population of the 15-year olds, the proportion having completed primary education should reach 98% or so. Among the population of the 17-year olds, the completion rates of lower secondary education should reach the standards set by the provincial-level government concerned.

Illiteracy rates. Among the 15-year olds, the illiteracy rates should be controlled under 1% or so, subject to the acceptance of provincial level governments.

Percentage of qualified teachers. With respect to the qualifications of teachers the following provisions have been made (See 2.5.2): All primary and lower secondary teachers should be able to fulfil their functions as required. The percentage of qualified teachers in primary schools should reach at least 90%, and in lower secondary school, at least 80%. All teachers employed since the implementation of compulsory education should meet the academic qualifications set by the state.

Article 7 of the Regulations on Eradicating Illiteracy Work promulgated by the State Council (first released in 1988 and revised in 1993) gives specific provisions on this matter.

Minimum literacy standards for individuals. With regard to the recognition of characters, 1500 is the threshold set for a rural inhabitant, 2000 for a worker or staff member employed by an enterprise or institution or for an urban inhabitant; besides a neo-literate should be able to read the easier popular papers and magazines and essays, to be able to keep simple accounts, and to be able to write simple and applications-oriented essays.

Minimum literacy standards for work units. For a unit claiming to have eradicated illiteracy among its staff members, the following requirements have to be met: the proportion of literate people among all its members 15 years of age and over, born after October 1, 1949, exclusive of those lacking learning ability, should reach 95% in a rural area, and 98% in an urban area. And the rate of relapse into illiteracy among the neo-literates should be controlled under 5%.

1.3.3 Procedure of acceptance

The educational departments at various levels and the educational inspection agencies are responsible for conducting the acceptance exercises, and the above-mentioned criteria are applied to progress made in a county-level administrative unit. At first, the county-level government organizes verification and acceptance exercises in the townships and towns under its jurisdiction, to be recognized by the provincial-level government and the state through sample checks. The results are published on newspapers.

1.4 Main Actions Taken to Promote Education for All

To implement EFA is a systematic endeavor involving the concerted efforts of the nation, encompassing schools and society at large, governmental agencies and the broad masses. With the advent of the 1990s, the Chinese government has given EFA high priority on its agenda, and a series of important policy measures have been taken to promote EFA, of which the following nine have created greater impact:

China has attached great importance to the development of education, and its achievements in improving children and young people' accesses to schooling, and in eradicating illiteracy have attracted worldwide attention. With the advent of the 1990s, starting from the strategy of developing the country by relying on science and education and of sustainable development, the Party and state have decided that high priority should be given to the development of education in the overall framework of the development of the national economy; that in the domain of educational development, a strategy of "low center of gravity" should be implemented by giving due attention to the training of skilled personnel at secondary and elementary levels; and that within the educational sector, the "two basics" (i.d. basically universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling and basically eradicating illiteracy among the young and middle-aged groups by the end of the century) should be regarded as the top priority among priorities.

This is an important component of the educational management structure of China laid down in the Decision on the Reform of the Education Structure jointly promulgated by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Its essential meaning is that under the overall guidance and support of the state, the responsibility and authority for universalizing compulsory education and eradicating illiteracy would be delegated to local governments. With the advent of the 1990s, it has been further clarified "in the implementation of compulsory education, the managerial responsibilities are divided among the provincial, county, and township level governments under the general guidance of the State Council", "in the implementation of compulsory education, in urban areas the responsibility lies with the governments of cities or the districts of large cities; while in rural areas the responsibility first of all lies with the county government, with suitable delegation of power to township authorities", "in literacy education, the county level government is responsible for overall planning, and the township level governments are held responsible for implementation", "with regard to the accomplishments of universalizing compulsory education and literacy education, their acceptance will be organized by a county-level government", and thereby perfecting the management structure related to educational provision and management by levels.

The Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China was adopted by the National People's Congress in 1986, and subsequently the Regulations on Eradicating Illiteracy Work was promulgated by the State Council in 1988, the Detailed Rules on Implementing the Compulsory Education Law was issued by the State Education Commission in 1992, the Regulations on the Education of the Disabled was promulgated by the State Council, and the the Law on the Protection of Juveniles, the Teachers' Law of the People's Republic of China and the Education Law of the People's Republic of China were consecutively adopted by the NPC in 1991, 1993 and 1995 respectively. These laws and regulations have placed compulsory education and literacy work on a legal basis.

The CPC committees, the governments, and People's Congresses at all levels should take part in decision making related to educational policies. The management of EFA at the central level mainly resides in the central educational department under the unified guidance of the State Council and in collaboration with other relevant departments (mainly governmental agencies in charge of planning, finance, capital construction, civil affairs, nationalities affairs, and NGOs like ACWF, and the Youth League), with suitable division of responsibilities among them. At the provincial, county, and township levels, the general practice has been to set up a leading group for promoting "two basics", headed by main leading cadres of both the Party and the government and with other members drawn from the educational department and from other relevant departments. This leading group is responsible for coordinating the work of all departments concerned and for urging them to fulfil their responsibilities. In view of the peculiarities confronted by literacy work, at the national level an interdepartmental steering group for literacy work has been organized, at provincial and lower levels, similar bodies have been set up to provide guidance to literacy work.

Although the Chinese government has emphasized again and again that universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling and eradicating illiteracy pertain to governmental behaviors and the responsibility for their implementation mainly lies with the government. However, due attention has been given to arousing the awareness and understanding of the masses in an effort to seek their participation and support. The press and mass media have played their role in relevant publicity work. For instance, in October 1995, the Committee on Women's and Children's Work under the State Council convened a conference devoted to publicity concerning children's development in China. At this conference a full account of the background of EFA, objectives and policy measures, outstanding issues and difficulties was given to the participants from more than 100 press and media units. The Chinese press and media have publicized EFA and made their contribution to the mobilization of the masses. The broad masses have enthusiastically lent their concern of and support to educational development by making donations and contributing voluntary labor. In recent years two thirds of the expenses on school buildings and other facilities depend on people's donations, making an important contribution to alleviate the shortage of school buildings arising from the implementation of 9-year compulsory schooling.

Education of the disadvantaged groups mainly refers to education conducted in poverty-stricken areas (including areas with unfavorable natural environment, sparsely populated mountainous areas and pastoral areas, etc,). Specifically it comprises education conducted in the 594 state designated level poor counties and in areas where ethnic minorities live in compact communities, as well as education of the disabled, girls' education, women's literacy education, and the education of children of migrants (the last problem has emerged with the increase of rural-urban migration). The education of these disadvantaged groups constitutes the difficult point and the priority of the implementation of 9-year compulsory schooling and of eradication illiteracy. Since the convening of the WCEFA China has given still greater attention to the education of these disadvantaged groups, as evidenced by relevant comments in the speeches and reports made by the state's leaders, and in important documents released during the past decade. A series of conferences have been convened by SEdC in collaboration with the following governmental agencies and NGOs: State Nationalities Affairs Commission, All China Women's Federation, China Association of the Disabled in an endeavor to promote the education of the disadvantaged groups by formulating policy measures and initiating specific projects to address the problems and issues related to the promotion of education in poor areas, in tackling problems of education in minority areas and problems of the education of the disabled and of women's education. These efforts have succeeded in increasing financial inputs to relevant projects by increasing financial budgetary appropriations, by instituting earmarked funds for universalizing compulsory schooling in poor areas, by giving subsidies to education in minority areas, by mobilizing governmental agencies and educational institutions in the developed areas to lend their support to the counterparts in the disadvantaged areas through partnerships, and by inducing inter-governmental organizations and other external donors to increase their grants-in-aid directed to the poor areas.

Since China is a vast country with quite different topographical features from region to region and with large regional disparities in development, the promotion of EFA must be carried out with due consideration of local conditions. And the following principles should be adhered to: integrating formal education with non-formal education, combining face-to-face instruction with distance education, so as to provide more adequate opportunities of learning to children, youth and adults by all possible means. In remote areas, rural areas, poor and minority areas, it is advisable and desirable to have half day schools in addition to ordinary all day schools; to have evening schools in addition to daytime schools; to have boarding schools in addition to schools for commuters; and to combine the study of technical subjects with the study of general cultural subjects. In rural areas, morning classes, evening classes, half day classes, and seasonal classes may all be resorted to in literacy work in an effort to adapt teaching and learning to rural seasonal conditions. In sparsely populated remote areas, where the inhabitants are scattered and transport is difficult. The following measures may be used to ease the schooling of school-aged children: setting up boarding schools or semi-boarding schools, simplified primary schools focusing on the three R's, increasing out-reach teaching sites, and adopting multiple-grade classes in teaching. For pupils from families with special difficulties, they may be allowed to go to school later and leave school earlier, and the older child is allowed to bring with her or him a younger sibling. To meet the needs of the minority areas and of religious conventions, single-nationality schools and girls' schools may be developed there, and in regular coeducational schools, special classes for girls may be organized. With respect of subjects taught in simplified schools, either only the following four subjects are provided: language, arithmetic, common knowledge, and moral study; or only language and arithmetic are taught. With respect to the modes of educational delivery, besides school attendance together with one's peers, some learning needs may be met by listening to or viewing radio and television broadcasts, or playback of video tapes.

To ensure the effective implementation of the state's guiding principles, laws and regulations and policy measures, and the attainment of developmental targets in the educational sector, the institution of a sound system of inspection and checking up is a must. In China there are mainly three ways to monitor the progress of EFA. The first relies on the top-down inspections organized by educational departments, usually on certain priority items. The second refers to the inspection and investigation activities organized by the People's Congresses and CPPCCs at various levels. For instance, during the period 1991-1992 NPC conducted a large scale inspection of the achievement in implementing the Compulsory Education Law in various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government. This action can be described as great in strength and impetus with the participation of many deputies to the NPC. This inspection campaign contributed a lot to the implementation of laws and regulations related to EFA. The third measure taken is that with the approval of the State Council, a system of educational inspection has taken shape, with the National Inspectorate at the top and inspection bodies organized at provincial, prefectural, and county levels. During recent years these educational inspection bodies at various levels have worked actively and played an important role in promoting the realization of the objectives of the "two basics" as scheduled and in strictly adherence to set standards. There contributions are significant and effective indeed.

In the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China jointly promulgated by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and in the Education Law of the People’s Republic of China, there are explicit provisions concerning educational finance. The gist of which consists in: by the end of the century public expenditure on education should reach about 4% of the nation's GNP. And the proportion of budgetary allocations for education to total budget at the national level should reach at least 15%. Efforts should be made to secure the steady increase in three indicators (the government's financial appropriation for education should grow at a higher rate than total public revenue; per student recurrent expenses and per student non-personnel expenses should steadily increase year by year). Although these requirements have not materialized in some years, these provisions have played an important role in securing more financial input in the educational sector.

1.5 Implementing effective policy options

Since China's economy is still not developed enough and is handicapped by limited financial resources in providing an educational undertaking of the largest scale in the world. In order to speed up the development of EFA and attain the objectives set in "meeting basic learning needs", effective policy strategies have to be selected in an endeavor to find a path of low cost and high effectiveness in educational provision.

1.6 Strengthening Cooperation with International Organizations

China is the most populous country in the world, and the total school-age population at the primary and lower secondary levels is about 180 million (167 million in 1991 and 188 million in 1998). To implement 9-year compulsory education in so large a population is really a formidable task. The Chinese government and people have done their utmost to realize the objectives set by WCEFA and by China’s itself, and in the meantime, China’ efforts have obtained the attention and energetic support of overseas Chinese and a number of international organizations.

Since China restored her legitimate place in the World Bank in 1980, 12 World Bank loan projects have been executed in the educational sector, with a total investment of counterpart USD 2,600,000,000, of which World Bank loans account for USD1,200,000,000 and Chinese counter part funds totaling 6.6 billion yuan. The World Bank loans have been mainly used to cover expenditures in the following items: procurement of equipment and laboratory instruments, renovating dilapidated school buildings and constructing new buildings, sending professionals from project units to study abroad, inviting foreign experts to work or give lectures in Chinese institutions, and organizing the training of managerial personnel and teachers. From 1990 onward, four World Bank loans have been utilized to implement four educational projects for the benefit of poor areas. The first one is the Project for Educational Development in Poor Provinces, covering 114 state designated poor counties located in the following 6 provinces: Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Shanxi and Shaanxi, requiring a total investment of USD 306,000,000. The objectives of this project were set as promoting UPE and moderate development of lower secondary education in the project areas; instituting and perfecting educational management information systems in the project provinces and counties; enhancing the standards of educational management and decision making. The second one is the Project for Developing Basic Education in Poor Areas, focusing on the development of basic education in 111 state designated counties located in the following 6 provinces: Sichuan, Neimenggu, Guangxi, Xinjiang, Ningxia and Jiangxi, helping them to universalize primary education and to moderately develop lower secondary edcuation, and a total investment of USD220,000,000 was envisaged. The targets set were to make primary education universal in all project counties and to develop moderately lower secondary education in them, so that their level of educational development may catch up with or approach that of the average level in the province concerned. The third one is the Project for Developing Basic Education in Poor Areas, focusing on providing aid to 124 state designated poor counties in the following 7 provinces: Gansu, Qinghai, Anhui, Hebei, Henan, Jilin and Fujian, in order to help them to universalize compulsory education. The total investment was envisaged as USD 190,000,000. The fourth one is the Project for Developing Basic Education in Poor Areas Combined with Poverty Alleviation in Qinba Mountainous Areas, ocusing on helping 91 state designated poor counties in Heilongjiang, Hainan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Shanxi, and Hunan to implement 9-year compulsory schooling, and on helping 26 state designated poor counties in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Ningxia to universalize primary education. The total investment for the first component of the project is USD103,640,000, and that for the second component is USD28,560,000. These four projects cover 366 state designated poor counties, accounting for 62% of the total number of state designated poor counties.

20 years have passed since China restored cooperation with UNICEF in 1979. UNICEF funds have mainly been used to support cooperative projects related to child development. In the period 1982-1995, 4 cycles of cooperation were completed, involving a total financial aid of USD 45,480,000. The projects supported cover a wide spectrum of activities, including preschool education, basic education, distance education, teacher training, teaching aids and textbooks development, and monitoring of the quality of education. The project units are scattered all over the country. Beginning with 1996, the 5th cycle of cooperation has been launched, with such sub-projects as Strengthening Educational Planning and Management, Readjusting Teaching Content and Curriculum, Developing Distance Education, Universaliozing Primary Education in 102 State Designated Poor Counties.

UNESCO is an important IGO founded to promote international exchange and cooperation in education, science and culture. To meet the needs of China in reforms, opening up, and effecting the transition from a planned economy to a market economy, UNESCO has conducted extensive cooperation with the Chinese government in the educational sector. The main patterns of cooperation include: providing financial aid to Chinese experts to take part in international cooperative research projects or to attend international conferences; funding and inviting foreign experts to give lectures in China or to attend international conferences held in China; sponsoring training courses in China through collaboration with Chinese agencies; providing financial aid to the Chinese government, research institutions and specialists in conducting studies on hot educational issues. The cooperation with UNESCO has expanded the avenues of international exchange and cooperation and opened up new sources of educational information, and has helped China to have a better understanding of the international community, and has played a positive role in the adoption of international practices in a number of areas and in promoting her integration into the international community.

Cooperation with UNDP was initiated in 1980, and three cycles of cooperation were completed in the first 15 years, and during this period the Chinese educational department and UNDP conducted 20 cooperative projects, and the Chinese side received financial aids totaling USD14,200,000. Spheres of cooperation included training of teachers and managerial personnel, renewal of English textbooks used in secondary schools, etc. In 1997 the fourth cycle of cooperation was initiated, focusing on aiding the poor counties located in Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guangxi--all poor areas in the northwestern and southwestern parts of China—to universalize 9-year compulsory schooling, and this is intended to help China implement her strategy of developing the country through science and education and embody the spirit of poverty alleviation.

1.7 Reforming the Mechanism of Educational Finance and Enlarging the Sources of financial input

1.7.1 Increasing financial input through multiple channesl

For a long time, the burden of educational finance is mainly borne by the government. The financial constraints of the government has become a severe handicap to educational development. And accordingly, the Chinese government decided in 1988 to adopt a new policy of educational finance in which fiscal appropriations constitute the main source, to be supplemented by funds raised through a variety of ways, such as: collection of educational taxes and fees, charging tuition and miscellaneous fees for students attending post-secondary educational institutions, development of school-run enterprises, encouragement of donations and gifts from up society at large, fund-raising campaigns, and the establishment of educational funds, and thus opening up new sources of educational finance. As a result, total educational expenditure has kept increasing year by year.

Figure 1.1 indicates the structural changes of educational finance in China during the 1990s. It can be seen that the weight of revenues from tuition and miscellaneous fees and other revenues of a fiscal nature (including revenues from transfer of school, choice of school, fees collected from boarding students, etc.), and the weight of educational expenditure of non-state/private schools have increased, while the weight of fiscal appropriations has decreased, indicating a reduction of 24.4 percentage points from 1991-1998. These changes are indeed what the government has envisaged as desirable.

Table 1.1 indicates the structural changes in educational revenues of a fiscal nature in the 1990s. From the data given it can be seen that revenues from enterprise-schools and funds raised by educational institutions themselves fluctuate a great deal; the weight of budgetary allocations show some increase, and the weight of taxes and fees collected by local governments for educational purposes show some increase. It is noteworthy that budgetary allocations retain their dominant position in revenues of a fiscal nature.

Increase of educational expenditure year by year. In the period 1991-1998, total educational expenditure in China increased from 73.15 billion yuan to 294.1 billion yuan, indicating a 3.1-fold increase or an annual growth rate of 22.5%. See Figure 1.2. It can be seen that although total educational expenditure has increased year by year, the annual growth rate fluctuates a great deal, and the annual growth rate for 1994 is especially high, largely due to increased expenditure used to offset the impact of price hike and to increase teachers’ pay.

Table 1.1 Structural Changes of Educational Expenditures of a Fiscal Nature (in %)





Total financial input of a fiscal nature




State budgetary allocations




Taxes and fees collected by gov. at various levels for ed.




Ed. exp. prov. by enterprises




Revennues from school-run enterprises and services




Source: China Statistics Yearbook and Educational Statistics Yearbook of China

      1. The policy measures of "three increases" have been basically realized in educational finance

Box 1.4 "Three Increases"

The "three increases" were first raised in the CPC Central Committee’s Decision on the Reform of the Educational Structure promulgated in 1985, and later were incorporated into the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China issued in 1993. Specifically speaking, they require "The growth rate of budgetary allocations for education made by the central and local government should be higher than the growth rate of current financial revenues, the per student public expenditure on current educational expenditure and the per student expenditure on non-personnel expenses (called public expenses in Chinese terminology) should increase year by year. In the provisions of the Educational Law of the People’s Republic of China adopted by the NPC in 1995, besides the above-mentioned three increases is added a requirement that steps should be taken to "ensure teachers’ salaries gradually increase year by year". These provisions have played an important role in increasing financial input for education.

In the period 1993-1996, per pupil spending on recurrent expenses at the lower secondary stage increased from 316.4 yuan to 519,4 yuan, that is, by 64%, and the average annual growth rate was 13.2%; per pupil spending on non-personnel expenses increased from 49.6 yuan to 93.1 yuan, that is, by 88%, yielding an average annual growth rate of 17%. In the period 1991-1997, per pupil spending on recurrent expenses increased from 114.8 yuan to 333.8 yuan, that is, by 194%, yielding an average annual growth rate of 19.5%; while per pupil spending on non-personnel expenses increased from 15.8 yuan to 34 yuan, that is, by 115%, yielding an average annual growth rate of 13.6%. See Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5 for details.

  1. Three indicators used to evaluate the financing of primary education

Core EFA Indicators 7a, 7b and 8 proposed by the Technical Guidelines for EFA Assessment 2000 bear on the financing of primary education: (1) public current expenditure on primary education as a percentage of GNP (7a); (2) Public current expenditure on primary education per pupil as a percentage of GNP per capita (7b); and (3) public expenditure on primary education as a percentage of total public expenditure on education (8). The higher the values of the indicators 7a and 7b the higher the intensity of the financing of primary education, and the value of the indicator 8 indicates the status primary education enjoys in the allocation of resources, and the higher its value the higher priority is accorded to primary education. . Figures 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8 indicate that in the 1990s these three indicators basically have the same trend of development. In the first two years their values decline and then they rose in 1993 and 1994 (obviously affected by the promulgation of the Guidelines on the Reform and Development of Education in China in 1993 and the convening of the National Conference on Education in 1994), and then they declined again and climbed up in the past two years.

Sources of data for Figures 1.6, 1.7 and 1.8:

    1. All data of educational financing are taken from the China Yearbook of Educational Financing edited by MOE’s Department of Financial Affairs;
    2. Per Capita GDP data are based on the GDP data released by various volumes of the China Statistics Yearbook..

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