Public outcry over cash for kindergartens

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Shanghai Daily, January 25, 2011
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There was a public outcry when it was revealed that Guangdong provincial government in south China was planning to give 68.63 million yuan (US$10 million) in subsidies to kindergartens mainly for the children of government officials.

The money will go to eight kindergartens opened and managed by government departments, which mainly enroll the children of civil servants or other government employees, if the draft 2011 budget of provincial government agencies is approved by Guangdong People's Congress, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

The draft budget also showed that, last year, a total of 57.31 million yuan had been given to the eight kindergartens in the provincial capital city of Guangzhou.

Internet forums have been flooded with complaints after details of the budget were revealed.

Public money

"Public servants abused their power by using taxpayers' money to serve their own children," one poster, "hyi1979," wrote.

"There are thousands of kindergartens in Guangzhou. Why does the government only subsidize the eight?" another asked.

"The kindergartens receiving public money should recruit children from society. Otherwise, the financial allotment is not reasonable," said Xin Pu, a member Guangdong People's Congress, the province's legislature.

The kindergartens usually take in children of government officials first. If there are still vacancies, they also accept other children, but charge fees ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 yuan, a parent of a child in a government-run kindergarten, who didn't want to be identified, told Xinhua.

The eight kindergartens fall into the category of government-sponsored institutions and are eligible for financial allotment, Huang Ping, a member of the Guangdong People's Congress Finance and Economic Committee, told the news agency.

Improper use

But that explanation failed to satisfy the budget's critics who said the matter had been a source of concern for several years.

A deputy to the provincial People's Congress raised questions seven years ago, saying it was improper to use taxpayers' money to benefit a small group of people.

Critics also found that the kindergartens had taken a big chunk of Guangzhou municipal government money in 2009.

There are around 410 kindergartens totally or partially sponsored by the government in Guangdong, fewer than 4 percent of the total, according to research by Wu Han and Wu Tanwei, members of Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Because kindergarten education wasn't part of China's 9-year compulsory education, it lacked financial support, which caused a string of issues such as lax supervision and overcharging, Wu Han said.

Wu suggested the inclusion of kindergarten education in the compulsory education system to ensure fairness and strengthen its development.

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