The provision of quality teaching can be matched by profits for schools, which can be ploughed back into the education system to benefit students and the community as a whole.
That was the message from political advisers attending a key meeting in Beijing yesterday, which will help shape the future of the capital.
Liu Yaowei, from Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics, said the capital should look at education provision in a "more business way".
Zhang Jieting, from the Beijing SIWA Future Education Enterprises Co Ltd, echoed Liu's view during a panel discussion at the ongoing first session of the 10th Beijing Municipal People's Political Consultative Conference (BMPPCC).
Liu said schools in the capital benefit from the tuition fees of foreign students, who are flocking to Beijing in record numbers, and many neighbourhoods prosper as a result.
Zhang said the development of schools without governmental subsidies was an important way to improve education provision.
"In order to double the number of people studying on campus, the country must invest more than 100 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion), on the assumption that all additional college education will be paid by the government," said Zhang.
"But private funds can save government money, while boosting the private economy and providing more job opportunities."
Zhang said new law passed at the latest session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC), which will become effective on September 1, will help.
The new law will ensure equality between non-public schools and those funded by the government, and allow owners of the non-public institutions to earn a "reasonable profit."
But Lin Yi, another BMPPCC member from the China Zhi Gong Dang, one of the eight non-Communist parties in China, said the importance of education is to nurture more professionals for industries where there is a current shortage.
Lin therefore suggested the city attaches special attention to the cultivation of "high-level blue-collar workers".
"Many local enterprises would like to pay 100,000 yuan (US$12,077) a year for senior blue-collar workers, but they just cannot find enough," said Lin. "Only education adjusted to the needs of the local economy can bring prosperity and profits."
Education is also a hot issue in South China's Guangdong Province, whose provincial people's congress is holding its session as well.
Sources from the session said the provincial government has vowed to expand its college recruitment by 300,000 over the next three years to train professionals
The province also plans to allocate 5.4 billion yuan (US$652.2 million) for education this year - 998 million yuan (US$120.5 million) up from last year.
There will also be a 1 billion (US$120.8 million) bill for the planned Guangzhou University City.
(China Daily January 16, 2003)