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Part II Analytic Section

Chapter Two Expanding Access to Education--

Universalizing 9-year Compulsory Education

Basic education should be provided for all children, youth and adults.

Consistent measures must be taken to reduce disparities.

The learning needs of the disabled demand special attention.

  • --Excerpts from World Declaration for All, Article 3, Universalizing Access and Promoting Equity.

  • By the year 2000, the goal of basically universalizing primary education (or any higher level education regarded as fundamental) should be attained.

    Efforts should be made to improve learning performance so that an agreed percentage of a specific age group (e.g. 80% of the 14-year olds) should reach or exceed the standards set.

    Excerpts from Framework of Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs, Basic Objectives.

    2.1 Historical course traversed

    Prior to the founding of the People's Republic of China, education in China was extremely backward, the enrollment ratio of primary school-age children was merely 20%, while 80% of the population of the nation were illiterate.

    With the founding of New China, numerous tasks had to be undertaken. In order to overcome the poverty and ignorance inherited from old China and gradually improve the standards of the material and cultural life of the people, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government attached great importance to the restoration and development of education. The Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which played the role of an interim Constitution of the country, explicitly provided: "The culture and education of the People's Republic of China shall be New Democratic---national, scientific and popular", "The main tasks of the People's Government in cultural and educational work shall be the raising of the cultural level of the people, the training of personnel for national construction work, the eradicating of feudal, comprador and fascist ideology and the developing of the ideology of serving the people." For the first time the Common Program called for the realization of universal education ...in a planned and systematic manner.

    In the first three decades since the founding of new China, the CPC, the People's Government, and the broad masses had made persistent efforts to widen the access of school-age children and youth to school, constituting the first step toward the implementation of compulsory schooling, and our successes had attracted world-wide attention. By 1978, there were 949,323 primary schools in the whole country with a total enrollment of 146,240,000 pupils, the number of schools being 2.74 times the number of school in 1949 (346,769), and total enrollment being 6 times the figure in 1949 (24,391,000), there were 162,345 general secondary schools with a total enrollment of 65,482,500 students (of which 49,950,000 students were enrolled in lower secondary programs), as compared with 4,045 general secondary schools and a total enrollment of 1,039,000 students (of which 838,000 were enrolled in lower secondary classes), indicating a 40-fold increase in the number of secondary schools and a 60-fold increase in enrollment in lower secondary schools. In the meantime the proportion of female students increased from 25.6% to 41.5% in secondary schools, and from 28.0% to 44.9% in primary schools; the proportion of minority students increased from 2.6% to 3.8% in secondary schools, and from 2.2% to 5.2% in primary schools. These figures indicate that by the end of the third decade since the founding of P.R.C., China had already provided a basic education of the largest scale in the world despite her weak economic strength. School-age children's access to education had improved considerably, and the progress made in rural areas and in minority areas were striking indeed. But it must be added that education in China suffered a great deal from inadequate school buildings, poor facilities and low qualifications of school teachers, and consequently the quality of education was generally low. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the duration of study was shortened (primary schooling was reduced from 6 to 5 years, and secondary education was reduced from 6 to 5 years); educational thought was seriously distorted, engendering disorder in school life and serious lowering of educational standards. Thus the rather high participation rates became a mere formality.

    The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China took stock of the positive and negative experiences of the past 30 years and decided to shift the focus of the Party's work onto socialist modernization, making economic construction the central concern of the Party. This conference succeeded in setting things right on the ideological and political fronts and marked a turning point in the history of China's development. From 1978 to 1980 the Ministry of Education endeavored to make readjustment and consolidation of schools in the light of CPC Central Committee's policy of "readjustment, restructuring, consolidation and improvement" of the national economy. And accordingly MOE convened a national conference on education and a series of conferences addressing specific issues, and released a series of documents related to the readjustment, consolidation, restoration and development of education. Among the more important items of work done were the following: (1) convening a national conference on education and affirming the achievements on the educational front in the first 17 years since the founding of NEW China, (2) readjustment of the duration of schooling by abolishing the 5+3 system (5 years of primary and 3 years of lower secondary education) or the 5+2 system and instituting the 6+3 or 5+3 system; (3) reissue of the Regulations on Work in Primary and Secondary Schools; (4) organizing educationists and authors and teachers to formulate anew the curricula (teaching plans) and syllabi used in school education, and to prepare and publish systematically school textbooks of various types. Through these efforts the chaotic situation engendered by the "cultural revolution" had been rectified and things set right, and education in China was again advancing on a normal track.

    With the advent of the 1980s, under the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, China has adhered to a policy of focusing on economic construction and a policy of reform and opening up to the outside world, and as a result, China's national economy has been making steady and rapid progress, and the goal of doubling GNP in ten years was achieved ahead of schedule, and the overall strength of the nation had been greatly enhanced. During the 1980s, a number of important decisions were made by the leadership of the Party and state, and the more important ones with a bearing on basis education are as follows: (1) reaffirm the goal of universal education. In 1980, the Decision on Several Issues Concerning Universal Primary Education" was jointly issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, which provides for the "historic mission of basically universalizing primary education in the whole country in the 1980s" in view of the fact that serious disruptions had been wrought by the cultural revolution, primary education is far from being universal, and new illiterates were being generated. In 1985, the Decision on the Reform of the Educational Structure was promulgated by the CPC Central Committee, which provides that the "responsibility of developing basic education will be delegated to local authorities, and steps should be taken to implement 9-year compulsory schooling step by step." In 1986 the Compulsory Education Law was adopted by the National People's Congress, which affirms "the state shall implement 9-year compulsory education", stipulating that "all children reaching 6 years of age, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, and race, are required to receive compulsory education as regulated by the state" (where conditions are inadequate, the entry age may be postponed to 7 years of age). (2) A series of policy measures were adopted to promote universal compulsory education. One is to increase educational investment, including mobilizing the resources of the community through donations and voluntary labor, and a vigorous mass campaign for renovating dilapidated school buildings and constructing new ones was initiated. (3) Measures were taken to develop teacher education and in-service teacher training so as to basically meet the needs for teachers quantitatively and to significantly increase the proportion of qualified teachers. The system of employing minban (community-paid) teachers was to be gradually phased out by converting the qualified ones into public-paid ones, and other relevant measures. Training programs catering to the needs of school principals were widely conducted so as to raise the level of school management. (4) Readjusting the distribution of schools in the light of local conditions. In sparsely populated areas, outreach teaching sites were increased to ease the school attendance of lower grade pupils, and boarding schools were constructed for pupils of the upper grades. In densely populated areas, schools were merged into bigger ones by taking advantage of the construction of new school buildings so as to enhance the cost-effectiveness of educational provision. During this period, primary education in China made steady, sustained, and rapid development. By 1990, there were 776,000 primary schools in the whole country with a total enrollment of 12.24 million pupils, raising the net enrollment ratio of school-age children to 97.8%, scoring an increase of 4.8 percentage points as compared with 93.0% in 1980. Primary education was universalized in areas inhabited by 91% of the nation's population.

    With the advent of the 1990s, by persistently adhering to a strategy of developing the country through science and education and a strategy of sustainable development under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee headed by Comrade Jiang Zemin, economic construction in China has been making rapid progress and the pace of implementing 9-year compulsory schooling has been speeded up. Firstly, in most areas, the focus of efforts has shifted form universalizing primary education to universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling. Secondly, In poverty-stricken areas and in the sparsely populated uplands, pastoral areas, and remote areas efforts have been exerted to speed up universal primary education or at least 3-4 years of primary education. Thirdly, special attention has been given to the education of various disadvantaged groups, including girls, disabled children, and the children of migrants. Fourthly, efforts have been made to realize a shift of an examinations-oriented education to an essential-qualities-oriented (EQO) education (suzhi jiaoyu), in an endeavor to achieve a comprehensive enhancement of educational quality. Fifthly, the system of educational provision and management by governments at different levels has been further improved. Sixthly, universalizing compulsory education and eradicating illiteracy have been given top priorities in educational development, and accordingly, a series of important documents were promulgated, such as the "Implementation Rules on Compulsory Education Law, the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China, the Action Scheme for Invigorating Education Toward the 21st Century and the "Decision on Deepening Educational Reforms and Promoting EQO Education in a Comprehensive Way", which have played an important role in accelerating the development of education. As things stand now, the goal set for "basically universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling in the whole country" can be hopefully realized as scheduled.

    Box 2.1 and Figure 2.1 provide information on the basic system of basic education and its system of educational provision and management in China.

    Box 2.1 Basic System of Basic Education

    Duration of compulsory schooling. The Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China provides that 9-year compulsory education shall be implemented in China. However, in areas inhabited by 40% of the nation's population the dominating duration of study for primary and lower secondary education combined is 8 years, thus, the actual target is meant to make current lower secondary education universal.

    Primary school entry age. The Compulsory Education Law provides that as a rule the entry age is 6 years, and where conditions are inadequate it may be postponed to 7 years.

    Current practice of duration of study. In areas where the entire length of primary and lower secondary education is 9 years, there exist three parallel systems, namely, a 6+3 system, a 5+4 system, and a 9-year integrated system. In areas where the entire length is 8 years, 5+3 is the dominating system.

    Standards of the Qualifications of school teachers. According to current regulations, primary school teachers having graduated from normal schools (secondary teacher training schools), lower secondary school teachers having graduated from junior teachers colleges are regarded as fully qualified. In actual practice, those primary school teachers graduated from general secondary schools and lower secondary school teachers graduated from any short-cycle (2-3 years) HEIs are all regarded as qualified.

    System of educational provision. The Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China legalizes a new departure in educational provision. It provides "a system of educational provision shall be instituted, in which the government remains the main provider of education, allowing other sectors of society to take part in educational provision, that is, allowing the coexistence of public and non-state/private schools." The state's policy on non-state/private education may be formulated as: "Active encouragement, energetic support, correct orientation, and strengthened management". In order to promote the development of non-state/private education, the State Council promulgated the "Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Non-state/private Education" on 1 October 1997. In recent years a number of non-state/private schools of various descriptions have cropped up in the country, however the number of non-state/private primary schools is very small (according to the data of 1997, there were 2055 non-state/private primary schools in the country with a total enrollment of 375,000 pupils, accounting for 3.2 thousandths of total number of primary schools and 2.6 thousandths of total primary enrollment respectively.

    Management structure. In the Decision on the Reform of the Educational Structure it is provided that with respect to the provision of primary and secondary education, a system of "provision by level and management by level" will be adopted. Under this system the responsibility for formulating major policies and of macro-level planning still lies with the central government, while the responsibilities for formulating specific policies and regulations and for the leadership, management, and inspection of schools shall all be undertaken by local governments. According to this system, in rural areas, rural schools are usually managed by administrative villages, while the central primary schools and lower secondary schools are usually managed by township governments.

    2.2 Expanding access to primary education

    Box 2.2 Targets set for universal primary education in the 1990s.

    By the year 2000 the net enrollment rates of the school-age children of the country should reach at least 99%; in areas inhabited by 95% of the nation's population the goal of universal primary education should be attained, while in areas inhabited by 5% of the nation's population, 3-4 years of primary schooling should be made universal; efforts should be made to further narrow the disparities in access to education among the school-age children of various groups.

    Quoted from "The Ninth FYP for Educational Development and the Schematic Plan up to the Year 2010"

    In order to realize the above-mentioned targets, universal compulsory education has been given high priority in the educational sector, and the measures taken include: raising funds through multiple avenues to enlarge the capacity of schools; developing teacher education and in-service training so as to train more teachers and improve their qualifications; taking a variety of measures to increase school attendance by school-age children and to curb dropping-out. In the 1990s the access of school-age children to primary education has been further improved with concomitant increase of enrollment ratios and narrowing of gaps in access to primary education among various groups under the condition of a large increase of school-age children.

    Table 2.1 Ranking of the Provincial-level Units by Descending Enrollment Ratios,1991-1998

    Ranking

    Ranking

    in 1991

    Ranking

    in 1998

    Ranking

    Ranking

    in 1991

    Ranking

    in 1998

    1

    Shanghai

    Tianjin

    16

    Guangxi

    Hubei

    2

    Tianjin

    Shanghai

    17

    Hunan

    Liaoning

    3

    Fujian

    Beijing

    18

    Liaoning

    Shaanxi

    4

    Beijing

    Anhui

    19

    Neimeng

    Hainan

    5

    Guangdu

    Zhejiang

    20

    Anhui

    Guangxi

    6

    Zhejiang

    Jilin

    21

    Shanxi

    Yunnan

    7

    Jilin

    Jiangsu

    22

    Xinjiang

    Hunan

    8

    Hainan

    Hebei

    23

    Jiangsu

    Gansu

    9

    Henan

    Fujian

    24

    Sichuan

    Heilongjiang

    10

    Shandong

    Guangdu

    25

    Gansu

    Guizhou

    11

    Hunan

    Henan

    26

    Yunnan

    Xinjiang

    12

    Hebei

    Shandong

    27

    Ningxia

    Ningxia

    13

    Jiangxi

    Shanxi

    28

    Guizhou

    Sichuan

    14

    Shaanxi

    Jiangxi

    29

    Qinghai

    Qinghai

    15

    Heilongjiang

    Neimeng

    30

    Tibet

    Tibet

    From Figure 2.3 it can be seen that in the period 1991-1998 there was improvement in net enrollment ratios of primary school-age children, and by 1998 the average national net enrollment ratio reached 98.93%. It is very likely that by the year 2000 this figure will reach 99% as envisaged.

    2.2.3 Disparities in access to education of different groups of people significantly narrowed

    Box 2.3 Indicators used for evaluation:

    * Absolute gender disparity in enrollment ratios=male enrollment ratio minus female enrollment ratio, and an index of 0 indicates no gender disparity.

    * Relative gender disparity in enrollment ratios=Absolute gender disparity in enrollment ratios/male enrollment ratio. Zero index value indicates no gender disparity.

    * Gender disparity index of enrollment ratios=female enrollment ratio/male enrollment ratio. Index value 1 indicates no disparity, index value over 1 indicates female enrollment ratio exceeding that of male enrollment ratio, and index value under 1 indicates male enrollment ratio exceeding that of female enrollment ratio.

    2.2.3.1 Gender disparity in enrollment ratios is narrowing

    Table 2.2 provides the data on the national average enrollment ratios of female and male school-age children. Figures 2.4 and 2.5 provide information on the trends of absolute gender disparity, relative gender disparity, and gender disparity indices.

    Table 2.2 Changes in the Net Enrollment Ratios of Male and Female

    Primary School-age Children and Gradually Narrowing Gender disparities

     

    1991

    1992

    1993

    1994

    1995

    1996

    1997

    1998

    Enrollment ratios (MF)

    Male

    98.70

    98.84

    98.53

    1991

    1992

    1993

    99.02

    99.00

    Female

    96.90

    96.98

    96.82

    97.72

    98.25

    98.63

    98.81

    98.86

    Gender disparity index

    0.982

    0.981

    0.983

    0.987

    0.993

    0.996

    0.998

    0.999

    Absolute gender disparity in enrollment ratios

    1.80

    1.86

    1.71

    1.30

    0.71

    0.35

    0.21

    0.14

    Relative gender disparity in enrollment ratios (%)

    1.82

    1.88

    1.24

    1.31

    0.007

    0.04

    0.02

    0.14

     

    Figure 2.4 indicates that in the 1990s the absolute gender disparity in net enrollment ratios of school-age children was gradually narrowing (the blackened part of each column indicates the percentage points narrowed), from 1.8 percentage points to 0.14 percentage points. Figure 2.5 indicates that in the 1990s, the relative gender disparity in enrollment ratios was gradually narrowing, from 1.28% to 0.14%; and the gender disparity indices were gradually increasing, from 0.982 to 0.999. The changes in these three indices indicates that viewing the national average values of these indices, the disparity in access to schooling between girls and boys have been basically eliminated at the primary stage as a result of many years of efforts, however, circumstances in various provinces are quite different. There are two phenomena worthy of note. One is that in 1998 the values of absolute gender disparity in enrollment ratios in the 16 provincial-level units, including Shanghai and Jilin, are negative, meaning female enrollment ratios being higher than male enrollment ratios. Another is related to gender disparities in the underdeveloped areas like Tibet and Qinghai, although the disparities have been gradually narrowing, they remain the geographical regions with the biggest gender disparities, because they developed from a much lower level. See Table 2.3 for details.

    Table 2.3 Changes in Absolute Gender Disparities in

    Enrollment Rates in Selected Provincial-level Units

     

    1991

    1998

    Changes in AGD

    Tibet

    22.06

    8.72

    -13.34

    Qinghai

    10.31

    2.16

    -8.15

    Ningxia

    9.56

    3.43

    -6.13

    Yunnan

    4.57

    1.50

    -3.07

    Guizhou

    4.36

    1.20

    -3.16

     

    2.2.3.2 Ethnic Disparities in Enrollment Ratios significantly reduced

    In the period 1991-1998 the total enrollment of minority primary school pupils in the country increased from 9,807,000 to 12,402,000, indicating an increase of 26.5%, accounting for 8.89% of total national enrollment (indicating an increase of 0.8 percentage points compared with 1991. In 1998 there were 21,000 independent minority primary schools with a total enrollment of 3,667,000 pupils, accounting for 29.6% of the total number of minority primary school pupils, indicating an increase of 11,000 or 3% compared with 1991.

    The five autonomous regions of Xinjiang, Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia), Ningxia, Tibet, and Guangxi and the three provinces of Qinghai, Yunnan and Guizhou are regions where ethnic minorities live in compact communities. There remain significant disparities in school-age children's access to primary education between these regions and the country as a whole owing to the following three factors: unfavorable natural environment, ethnic customs and conventions, and low level of economic development. The conditions of education in these regions reflect to a certain extent the conditions of education among the ethnic minorities.

    During the 1990s, the pace of progress of primary education in these 8 autonomous regions and provinces has increased significantly, as evidenced by the increase in their enrollment ratios of primary school-age children. See Figure 2.6.

    Figure 2.7 indicates that the gaps in net enrollment ratios of primary school-age children between the nine provinces and autonomous regions where ethnic minorities live in compact communities and the national average have been gradually narrowing. The absolute gender disparity in enrollment ratios was brought down to 0.7 percentage points, 1/5 the value of 1991 (3.7 percentage points), and the gender disparity index in 1998 is 0.99, indicating an improvement over 1991 (0.96).

    Figure 2.8 indicates that gender disparities in enrollment ratios have been gradually narrowing. It can be seen that gender disparities have significantly narrowed in a setting of gradual improvement of enrollment ratios. In 1998 the gender gap was narrowed down to 0.74 percentage points, 1/7 the value of 1991 (5.34 percentage points).

    2.2.3.3 Education of disabled children has made big strides

    Education of disabled children mainly refer to education provided for children with impairments of vision, hearing, or speech (that is, the blind, the deaf, and the mute) and the mentally retarded children. As a rule, it does not include those with orthopedic and neurological handicaps who can attend the regular schools. In China there are three kinds of educational institutions providing education for disabled children: (1) regular schools practicing mainstreaming; (2) special education classes attached to regular schools; (3) special education schools for the deaf-mute, for the blind, and for the mentally retarded.

    Disabled people constitute a special group of people who experience the greatest difficulty in their survival and are most in need of societal aid. To develop special education, to ensure the disabled with the right to education have great significance for promoting the ability of the disabled in self-reliance and self-strengthening and in enjoying equal right in participating in social life and enjoy the fruits of the material and spiritual civilization of mankind. Since the founding of New China the Party and the state have paid great attention to the education of the disabled, and the pace of developing education for the disabled has been stepped up. With the advent of the 1990s, we have witnessed the following events: in 1994 the State Council promulgated the "Regulations on the Education of the Disabled", which further set out the standards and norms for education of the disabled; since the promulgation of the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China, SEdC and the China Association of the Disabled jointly formulated a "Scheme for Implementing Compulsory Education of the Disabled Children during the Ninth Five-Years Plan Period" (1996), which clarifies that the education of the disabled children and youth is an important component of compulsory education; advanced units and individuals making outstanding achievements in educating the disabled have been commended. All of these actions have played a significant role in accelerating the development of the education for disabled children and youth.

    In the period 1990-1998, the number of independent special education schools in the country increased from 746 to 1535, indicating a twofold increase (See Figure 2.9) In the meantime, the total number of disabled children and youth attending school (including both pupils attending regular schools and those attending special education schools) increased from 85,000 to 358,000, indicating an increase of 273,000, signalling a 3.2-fold increase. See Figure 2.10.

    In the 1990s two significant changes in the education of the disabled have occurred: One is that among the disabled children attending school, the weight of mentally retarded has increased significantly. It increased from 65.4% in 1990 to 72.8% in 1998, becoming the main body of disabled pupils (see Figure 2.11). The emergence of this phenomenon may be explained as follows: With the gradual enhancement of people's living standards and health care services and the popularization of the idea of less births but sound rearing of children, the proportion of the deaf-mute and the blind has decreased, while that of the mentally retarded has increased; the deaf-mute and the blind face more obstacles in school attendance than the mentally retarded (the former can hardly be integrated into regular schools by mainstreaming, and the special education schools catering to the needs of the deaf-mute and the blind are usually located in large and medium-sized cities, and the deaf-mute and the blind children living in the countryside cannot afford to leave their homes to attend such schools far away. Another change is the significant increase of the weight of mainstreaming. Its weight increased from 7.5% in 1990 to 67.8% in 1998. See Figure 2.12 for detail. The main cause of this change is due to the increase of the weight of the mentally retarded, who are mostly enrolled in regular schools. Figure 2.13 indicates that most deaf-mute and blind pupils are enrolled in special education schools, and Figure 2.14 indicates that most mentally retarded children are enrolled in regular schools by mainstreaming.

     

    2.2.3.4 Education of the children of migrants attracts the concern of society and the state

    With the deepening of reforms and opening up and with the rapid development of economic construction, rural-urban and inter-regional mobility of population tends to increase year by year. In order to have an overall understanding of the school attendance of the children of migrants and reveal the problems and factors influencing their school attendance so as to provide the information basis for decision making of the government, the Department of Basic Education, with the support of UNICEF, organized a team of experts drawn from the EMIC of SEdC and the China National Institute for Educational Research to conduct an investigation of the problem of the education of the children of migrants by carrying out sample surveys in six urban districts in 1996.

    The sample surveys were started in October 1996, with relevant data mainly gathered in November, and were basically concluded by the end of December. The methods and procedure of the sample surveys were conducted as follows: basic data on the number of temporary households and mobile population were collected with the aid of local administrative bodies for industry and commerce, bureaus of public security and other agencies in charge of mobile population affairs, and 2-3% of these households were selected by random sampling, and teams of investigators were organized to conduct sample surveys through questionnaires in both households and schools. 3644 questionnaires were distributed and 3612 were recovered with 1936 valid ones. The main findings of these sample surveys are as follows:

    The basic data on mobile population (temporary households) in the six cities (or urban districts) are given in Table 2.4.

    Table 2.4 Data on Mobile Population in Six Cities (Urban Districts)

     

    Permanent population

    (in '0000)

    Temporary

    population

    (in '0000)

    Percentage of

    temporary

    population

    Total

    377.48

    69.45

    18.40

    Fengtai, Beijing

    76.64

    18.08

    23.59

    Xuhui, Shanghai

    82.29

    7.45

    9.05

    Hebei, Tianjin

    63.87

    3.34

    5.23

    Luohu, Shenzhen

    60.68

    28.6

    47.13

    Yiwu, Zhejiang

    64.00

    9.16

    14.31

    Langfang, Hebei

    30.00

    2.83

    9.41

    Source: All data are taken from the Report on the Education of the Children of Migrants made by the EMIC of SEdC (1997)

    Table 2.5 provides information on the school attendance of school-age children of migrants in the six cities (urban districts) surveyed.

    Table 2.5 School Attendance of School-age Children of Migrants in the Six Cities

    (Urban Districts)

     

    Total

    Fengtai, Beijing

    Xuhui, Shanghai

    Hebei, Tianjin

    Luohu, Shenzhen

    Yiwu, Zhejiang

    Langfang, Hebei

    No. of School-age Children

    55074

    5675

    9550

    13050

    20701

    4763

    335

    No. of enrollees

    52882

    5448

    90000

    11650

    20701

    4748

    335

    Enrollment ratio

    96.2

    96.0

    94.2

    89.3

    100

    99.6

    100

    Percentage of children of migrants

    12.05

    5.75

    8.69

    16.0

    41.8

    6.1

    1.26

    It can be seen that the enrollment ratios of school-age children of migrants in these six cities (urban districts) vary very much from each other, yielding an average of 96.2%. (According to the questionnaires completed by parents, the figure is 94%). Several factors contributed to the nonattendance at school by part of the school-age children of migrants: (1) first of all, the local schools were overcrowded and the fees charged were too high; (2) second, most migrants live in places bonding urban and rural areas, the parents of children were busy working and unable to pay attention to the schooling of their children; third, the environment of these families was unfavorable, the school performance of these children was not good and they were weary of studying. In order to address the problem of school attendance of the children of migrants, SEdC and MOPS issued "Provisional Regulations on the School Attendance of Migrant Children and Youth" in 1998. These regulations, besides emphasizing the significance of tackling the problem of the school attendance of the children of migrants, provide for the responsibilities of the authorities of their places of origin and their places of influx, as well as the responsibilities of their custodians, and set forth methods of tackling the problem and the norms of fees charged.

    2.3 Universalizing Lower Secondary Education

    Box 2.4 Targets set for Universalizing

    Lower Secondary Education in the 1990s

    The "Rules for Implementing the Guidelines for the Reform and Development of Education in China released in 1994 provide for basically universalizing 9-year compulsory education by the year 2000, specifically this means that the gross enrollment ratio of school-age youth at the lower secondary stage should reach 85%, or that 9-year compulsory schooling should be made universal in areas inhabited by 85% of the nation's population. The first 85% reflects the access to lower secondary education of the corresponding school-age youth, and the second 85% reflects the degree of universalization of 9-year compulsory education.

    2.3.1 The scale of educational provision at lower secondary stage has been enlarged and the enrollment ratios significantly increased

    Being one of the targets set for universal compulsory education in the 1990s, total lower secondary enrollment should reach 55 million by the year 2000. In recent years, on the basis of universal primary education, great efforts have been made by local authorities to create the conditions for expanding educational provision at the lower secondary level, including both general and vocational education programs. Accordingly, both the scale of provision and enrollment ratios have made significant progress. In the period 1991-1998, the total floor area of secondary school buildings in the country increased from 270,000,000 sq.m. to 430,000,000 sq.m., indicating an increase of 160,000,000 sq.m., or 61%. The number of lower secondary school full-time teachers increased from 2,517,000 to 3,055,000, indicating an increase of 538,000 or 23.4%. In the meantime, total enrollment in lower secondary schools increased from 40,085,000 to 54,497,000, indicating an increase of 14,412,000 or nearly 36%, and the average gross enrollment ratio increased from 69.7% to 87.3%, an increase of 17.6 percentage points. From the current trend of development, the targets set for developing lower secondary education by the end of the century, that is, total enrollment should reach 55 million and gross enrollment ratio should reach 85%, can be attained as scheduled. Figures 2.15 and 2.16 provide information on the growth of total enrollment and the growth of gross enrollment ratios in the 1990s respectively.

    2.3.2 Lower secondary education is increasingly universalized

    An important indicator for measuring the universalization of 9-year compulsory education is the percentage of the nation's population covered. The target set for the 1990s is to make 9-year compulsory education universal in areas inhabited by 85% of the nation's population. The meaning of compulsory education being made universal is that the localities concerned have passed the verification and acceptance exercise organized by the provincial-level government and confirmed by state authorities through sample checks in accordance with the criteria (see section 1.4) set for verification and acceptance.

    The procedures of verification and acceptance are as follows: In case all the townships and towns under the jurisdiction of a certain county (district) have met the criteria for acceptance of 9-year compulsory schooling, it is incumbent on the county (district) government in question to submit a request for verification and acceptance to the upper level provincial-level government, and then the provincial-level government will organize sample checks in the county (district), and when its acceptance is confirmed, the result of verification and acceptance will be reported to the national department of education for the record. The latter will publish a list of such accepted counties once a year on national papers. If all counties (districts) under the jurisdiction of a provincial-level government have met the criteria for acceptance, then the province in question will be regarded as having attained the goal of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling.

    In January 1995, SEdC published the first list of counties (districts) which were accepted as meeting the criteria set for basically universalizing 9-year compulsory education and basically eradicating illiteracy among young and middle-aged adults. Subsequently such a list was published every year, and so far five lists have been published. Figure 2.5 indicates the number of counties (districts) meeting the criteria for "two basics" and the total population in these counties (districts) in terms of their percentage weight in the nation's population. It can be seen that with the steady increase of the number of counties (districts) meeting the criteria, their aggregate weight in the nation's population has steadily increased. By 1998, 2242 counties (districts) in the country had realized the goal of basically universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling, accounting for 78.4% of the total number of counties (districts) in the country (2859); and the total population of these counties (districts) reached 73.0% of the nation's population. In the light of the current trend of development the target set for the year 2000--to have 85% of the nation's population covered is likely to be attained. Table 2.6 provides information on the progress of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling in terms of the percentage of population covered. Figure 2.17 gives the ranking of various provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in universalizing 9-year compulsory education by sequential order of their population coverage ratios.

    Table 2.5 Number of Counties (Districts) Accepted as Basically Realizing 9-year Compulsory Education and their Population as a Percentage of the Nation's population

     

    Published time

    No. of counties (districts) attaining goals

    Percentage of population covered

    Cur. year

    Cumulative

    1st list

    Jan.12,1995

    554

    18.5

    18.5

    2nd list

    Mar.4,1996

    471

    17.7

    36.2

    3rd list

    Jan.22,1997

    457

    16.4

    52.6

    4th list

    Feb.5,1998

    400

    15.0

    67.6

    5th list

    Jan.8,1999

    360

    12.1

    73.0

    Source: Office of the Educational Instpectorate, MOE

    Table 2.6 Population Coverage Ratios of Various Provinces and Autonomous Regions Grouped by Category of Areas

    1st category areas

    2nd category areas

    3rd category areas

    Provinces

    Population coverage (%)

    Provinces

    Population coverage (%)

    Provinces

    Population coverage (%)

    Beijing

    100

    Fujian

    100

    Guangxi

    65.9

    Shanghai

    100

    Anhui

    90.6

    Ningxia

    53.8

    Tianjin

    100

    Heilongjiang

    88.0

    Xingjiang

    47.4

    Jiangsu

    100

    Hubei

    87.1

    Gansu

    46.9

    Guangdong

    100

    Shangxi

    86.6

    Inner Mongolia

    45.2

    Zhejiang

    100

    Hunan

    84.7

    Qinghai

    35.8

    Liaonin

    100

    Jianxi

    82.0

    Yunnan

    33.3

    Jilin

    100

    Hebei

    81.3

    Guizhou

    16.5

    Shangdong

    89.4

    Henan

    81.1

    Tibet

     

     

     

    Shaanxi

    72.4

     

     

     

     

    Chongqing

    72.0

     

     

     

     

    Sichuan

    69.7

     

     

     

     

    Hainan

    63.1

     

     

    Average

    96.5

    Average

    81.9

    Average

    42.3

    2.3.3 Regional disparities in population coverage ratios

    In the 1990s regional disparities with respect to UPE have significantly narrowed, while the regional disparities with respect to the development of lower secondary education are still very large.

    2.3.3.1 Comparing the level of development in the three categories of areas, significant gaps exist between the first category and second category areas with regard to population coverage ratios. Table 2.5 indicates that comparing the progress of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling among the three categories of areas yields the following picture: in the first category areas comprising 9 provinces and municipalities, the population coverage ratio reached 96.5% by 1998; in the second category areas comprising 13 provinces and autonomous regions, the ratio reached 81.9%, falling short of the attainment of the first category areas by 14.6 percentage points; in the third category areas comprising 9 provinces and autonomous regions, the ratio reached barely 42.3%, falling short of the attainment of the first category areas by 54.2 percentage points. It can be seen from Figure 2.17 that among the 9 provinces and municipalities of the first category areas, with the exception of Shandong Province, all the other 8 provinces and municipalities had by about 1998 passed province-wide verification and acceptance tests organized by the state with regard to universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling; among the provinces and autonomous regions of the second category areas, Fujian headed the list and had passed province-wide verification and acceptance tests organized by the state, while the other provinces and autonomous regions also made significant advances in population coverage ratios. The population coverage ratios in all provinces and autonomous regions pertaining to the third category areas were generally low. The population coverage ratios in 8 provinces and municipalities of the first category areas all reached 100%, and the province among the third category areas attaining the highest ratio was Guangxi--barely reaching 65.9%, and the ratios in Neimenggu, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Guizhou were respectively 45.2%, 35.85, 33.3%, and 16.5%. The main causes contributing to these disparities are as follows: low level of economic development and weak infrastructure of education, and thus the priority at the current stage has to be UPE; in recent years, the special funds allocated by the state to aid local authorities to universalize compulsory education were mainly directed to the second category areas. With the realization of UPE in these provinces and autonomous regions and with the shifting of the special funds of the state to them from 1998 onward, it is expected that the pace of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling will be significantly stepped up.

    2.3.3.2 The population coverage ratios show a graded distribution from east to west geographically. Figure 2.18 indicates the geographical distribution of the population coverage ratios. It can be seen that the population coverage ratios with regard to the attainment of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling show an obviously graded distribution from east to west in descending order. The 9 provinces and municipalities attaining a population coverage ratio of 100% are all in the eastern economically developed coastal areas; the 5 provinces with population coverage ratios ranging from 100-85% and the 7 provinces with population coverage ratios ranging from 85-65% are all in the central part of China, with a few ratios crossing each other; the 9 provinces and autonomous regions with low population ratios are all located in the western poor areas, areas with minorities living in compact communities, and border areas of China.

    2.3.3.3 Gaps in the level of economic development constitute the fundamental cause of gaps in the population coverage ratios. Figure 2.20 gives a picture of correlation between the population coverage ratios and per capita GNP figures of the provinces. It can be seen that the distribution of the scattered dots shows an essentially positive correlation with per capita GNP. This phenomenon shows that the gaps in the level of economic development constitute the main cause of gaps in population coverage ratios. The scatter of dots on nearly the same population coverage ratio indicates that the positive correlation is a weak one. In areas with per capita GNP lower than 9000 yuan, there appears no regularity. This indicates that the level of educational development of an area is not only affected by the level of its level of economic development, but also is a function of non-economic factors, such as the existing infrastructure of education, the attention given to education, and the intensity of efforts made in universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling. On the scatter diagram showing the relationship between educational and economic development, there are 8 provinces with per capita GNP exceeding 8000 yuan attaining the population coverage ratio of 100%, in areas with per capita GNP under 8000 yuan, some provinces have similar level of per capita GNP, yet their population coverage ratios vary a great deal. Therefore, it is desirable that in areas that are economically moderately developed but have relatively high population coverage ratios efforts should be made to further take stock of their experiences of universalizing 9-year compulsory schooling, and it is also desirable that in areas with relatively higher level of economic development but relatively lower population coverage ratios, efforts should be made to analyze the underlying causes.

     

     

    Figure 2.18 Geographical Distribution of Population Coverage Ratios Regarding the Attainment of Universalizing 9-year compulsory Schooling

    Sources:

    1. The population coverage ratios are provided by the Office of the Educational Inspectorate of MOE

    2. Data on per capita GNP are estimated on the basis of GNP and population data published in the 1998 China Statistics Yearbook.



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