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Official Misusing Education Funds Fired

Su Liqi, director of Wuchuan Education Bureau of South China's Guangdong Province, will be removed from his official position and is still being investigated after having been found to have misused a large sum of educational funds, sources said yesterday.

The local education bureau was found to have misused more than 6 million yuan (US$725,000) for unnecessary banquets over a year and half, according to the National Audit Office.

In addition, Cao Dong, vice-mayor of Wuchuan, and Chen Baoming, another city official, will face disciplinary punishments, the sources added.

Cao was in charge of the city's education work from June of last year to March, while Chen was in charge of the work during 1998 to last year.

At the end of last month, Auditor-General Li Jinhua submitted a report to the National People's Congress Standing Committee, which says that inspections in 50 counties and county-level cities found 43 had misappropriated or defaulted on funds designated for local schools. That amounts to 445 million yuan (US$53.8 million).

Wuchuan and Huazhou, two county-level cities in the western part of Guangdong Province - critically plagued with shortage of educational funds-were found to be among the black list of 43.

According to the audit, more than 2 million yuan (US$240,000) of the 6 million yuan (US$725,000) in educational funds were misused by the education bureau and 17 of its subsidiary departments .

At present, Wuchuan has 426 primary and middle schools and about 10,000 staff members. The average monthly wage of a teacher in the city is about 700-800 yuan (US$85-96).

In addition, the local educational departments were found to have debts of more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) in the past few years, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Abuse of education funds

The report says the abuse of such money in the educational departments of Huazhou totalled more than 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million).

To strengthen fiscal controls of funds and help establish a security system, the National Audit Office conducted a survey on educational funds use in 50 counties and county-level cities from October of last year to January.

According to Xinhua, Guangdong Province organized a special team to fully inspect the education bureau in Wuchuan, with 10 education officials gathering files for further inspection.

Guangdong Province, growing rapidly economically, has found financial shortfalls in basic education in most of its cities and counties over the past few years.

In addition, Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, still finds shortages of educational funds in its rural areas, according to the Education Bureau of Guangzhou.

Although abuse of basic educational funds is just as outrageous in some cities of the province, local lawmakers and political advisers called on the government of Guangdong Province to improve the cash-strapped rural education system.

(China Daily July 2, 2004)

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