A teacher gives a lesson at a primary school in Ersai township in Daliangshan mountain area in Sichuan province. [Photo/VCG]
Govt pledges to tackle imbalance, eliminate crowded classes by 2020
China will lend stronger financial support to improve education quality in remote rural areas to improve the country's weak links in education, a senior official said.
Zheng Fuzhi, assistant education minister, said during a news briefing held by the State Council's information office on Friday that China will direct another 13 billion yuan ($2 billion) toward fiscal transfers to local governments for education. The decision was made during the State Council's executive meeting on Wednesday.
Zheng said the money will mainly be given to schools in remote and poverty-stricken areas, and another 10,000 teachers will be sent to such areas to improve education quality there.
Efforts will be given to improve the treatment for teachers under the compulsory education system in rural areas, Zheng says, and the Ministry of Education will work to make sure that salaries for such teachers will not be lower than local civil servants, and will make sure salaries are paid on time.
Fiscal transfers for education have increased from 246 billion yuan in 2012 to 311.8 billion yuan in 2017. More than 80 percent of the funds have been used to improve education quality in western China. At the same time, about 80 percent of financial support came from the central government.
The government has attached great importance to improving compulsory education in recent years, Zheng said, and half of the country's education expenditures were spent on compulsory education.
A total of 96 million students received financial support in 2017.
He said further balancing education quality in urban and rural areas will be an important task for the ministry this year, he said.
"There has been a strong imbalance of education quality in rural and urban areas for a long time and there are some historical reasons behind such phenomenon," Zheng said. "Currently, schools of good teaching quality in urban areas are getting overwhelmingly crowded."
Zheng said that by the end of 2017 there were 368,000 classes across China with more than 56 students in each class. He said the government aims to eliminate such crowded classes by 2020 to ensure education quality, while more adequate financing will be provided to schools with very few students in remote rural areas.