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Experts Say Education Input Vital

A recent study by one of China's top think tanks says it is vital the country increase input into education.

The Development Research Center (DRC) of the State Council said that for long-term national development, China must tackle the country's shortage of investment in training.

"The growth of education along with the introduction of qualified personnel represents a basic strategy for the expansion of China's talent reserve," said Lin Zeyan, a researcher heading the study project, adding that a market-oriented training mechanism should be set up immediately.

"Such a mechanism could arouse and pool ideas from varied social strata to encourage and promote investment in education," said Lin.

According to statistics from the DRC, China has had a long term shortage of qualified personnel, with only 5 per cent of its population receiving a college education, compared to 30 per cent of people in developed countries.

DRC statistics also indicate that in the 1990s, China spent just 2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education, growing to more than 3.4 per cent in 2003.

In 2003, developed Western nations invested an average 6 to 7 per cent of their GDP in education, and even in third world countries the average was 4.1 per cent.

"As a rule, public funds for education should account for the majority of a country's education investment framework and will affect the final result eventually," Lin said.

An earlier blue book on Chinese society in 2005 published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) found that spending on children's education has become the top investment for Chinese families, overtaking that for endowments and housing.

In rural areas, the Chinese central government pays for less than 2 percent of the cost of compulsory education, with township governments footing as much as 78 per cent of the bill.

"It shows that China's public spending on education is far from enough and Chinese farmers are practically educating their kids at their own cost," said Lin. "The situation is in great need of change.

"That families play the main part in the education process can only add to the burden on those families whose children are in the compulsory education sector."

(China Daily July 8, 2005)

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