III. Education for Children
The Chinese Government always gives pride of place to children's education in the promotion of education in general. Thanks to the mutual efforts made by the government and society, children's education in China has seen great progress in the past few years, with many indexes higher than those of other developing countries and some indexes close to those of developed countries.
Vigorously Increase Input in Education
In recent years, China has established an educational fund-raising system, whereby financial allocations are the predominant source, with funds collected through other channels as a supplement. It is stipulated that the increase of allocations for education by the central and local governments should be higher than the increase of regular revenue, thus ensuring a year-by-year increase of average educational appropriations for every student.
According to statistics, in 1994 China spent 59.4 billion yuan on primary education, with operating expenses for public use averaging 89.47 yuan per student; 43.5 billion yuan was spent on ordinary middle schools, with operating expenses for public use averaging 239.89 yuan per student.
The Chinese Government pays great attention to educational development in remote and poor areas, as well as areas inhabited by national minorities. Since the 1980s, the state has appropriated school aid for the popularization of primary education, and subsidies for developing vocational education, normal education and education for national minorities. The State Education Commission and the Ministry of Finance have decided that in 1995-2000, the special funds allocated by the central government for the popularization of compulsory education, plus the supporting money provided by the local governments, should be used to implement the National Compulsory Education Project in Poor Areas. It is estimated that over 10 billion yuan will be put into the project. The money will be used mainly to improve conditions in primary schools and junior middle schools in poor areas.
China has been making great efforts in raising educational funds through various channels. According to incomplete statistics, during 1991-94, it collected a total of 33.8 billion yuan for primary and middle schools to buy more and better quality teaching aids, books and reference materials, sports requisites and campus facilities.
Develop Preschool Education
Mobilizing the whole society to develop preschool education in vari"ious forms and channels and encouraging not only government institutions and enterprises but also mass organizations and individuals to open kindergartens in light of relevant regulations--this is one of the principles adopted by China in developing preschool education. In recent years, due to the vigorous support and active participation of governments at all levels and society at large, China's preschool education has been developing steadily. A new era has dawned in which kindergartens are run by the state, the collectives and the individuals together. By 1995 China had 180,000 kindergartens, with an enrollment of 27.1123 million children. In all, 42.2 percent of children aged 3-5 years old go to kindergartens. In urban areas, full-time kindergarten is the dominant form of preschool education, with the boarding system and preschool classes as a supplement; in rural areas where the local economy is better-developed, central kindergartens can be found in every township and preschool classes in every village. In backward countryside, mountain and pastoral areas, which are remote and sparsely populated, while endeavoring to create conditions for running preschool classes, people are opening children's activities stations, games groups, mobile groups giving children guidance, and other nonregular forms of preschool education.
Higher Enrollment Ratio for Children of School Age
Popularization of compulsory nine-year schooling is the key goal of China's elementary education program. Thanks to the government's effort and powerful support from society, in 1995 the number of children attending primary school reached 131.95 million, with an enrollment rate of 98.5 percent for children of school age. In addition, only 1.49 percent of the students discontinued their studies and 90.8 percent of the primary school graduates entered a higher school. According to China's present standard on popularization of compulsory primary schooling, elementary education has been basically popularized in areas covering 91 percent of the country's population. UNESCO statistics show that the enrollment ratio of school-age children in China is much higher than in other countries of the same economic development level.
Education for girls is a key problem which faces developing countries in the field of children's education. When New China was firstly founded, the country's enrollment rate of girls was only 15 percent. The Chinese Government later took many measures so that great progress was made in education for girls and the gap between enrollment rates of boys and girls was reduced year by year. China therefore has solved a problem which remains unsolved in many other developing countries. According to statistics, in 1995 the enrollment ratio of school-age girls in primary schools was 98.2 percent, only 0.7 percentage point lower than that of boys; girl students accounted for 47.3 percent of total primary school enrollment.
Help for Children Unable to Go to School
In China's poor areas there are children unable to go on to school because of poverty. Governments at all levels have incorporated help for children from poor families to enter school in their help-the-poor programs and, at the same time, have taken various measures to help them return to school. In the mean time, thanks to the concern of and vigorous promotion by the government, people from all walks of life have been helping these children, enabling them to enjoy the fundamental right to education.
In October 1989, the China Youth Development Foundation initiated the Hope Project in Beijing. It provides grants-in-aid as long-term financial assistance to children in poor areas who dropped out of school because of straitened family circumstances, thus enabling them to return to school. In some poor rural areas, it also helps build or repair schoolhouses and buy teaching aids, stationery and books. It has sponsored the ``One Million People's Love Movement'' and the ``1 (family) + 1 (dropout) Help Movement,'' mobilizing the entire society to help dropouts return to school. By the end of 1995, the Hope Project had raised 690 million yuan, given financial assistance to 1.25 million children for continuing primary education and subsidized construction of over 2,000 Hope Project primary schools.
The China Children's Foundation began to carry out the Spring Buds Program in 1989. It established a special fund to help girls enter school, enabling girls in poor areas to receive charge-free compulsory primary education. In total, the Spring Buds Program helped 100,000 girls return to school in 1994 and 1995.