At the teleconference held by the General Office of the State Council on the morning of April 26 concerning improvement of the rural compulsory education management system, Li Lanqing, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice-premier of the State Council, stressed in his speech that governments at all levels should, from the height of carrying out President Jiang's "three represents" important thinking and maintaining the general situation with regard to rural reform, development and stability, fully understand the important significance of the adjustment and improvement of the rural compulsory education management system to promoting the sound development of rural compulsory education, and ensure that rural compulsory education in all areas within the year will operate under the management system with the county government taking the principal responsibility.
Li pointed out that adjusting and improving the rural compulsory education management system and promoting the development of rural compulsory education is an important content of implementing the "three represents" theory; and a policy decision on instituting the strategy of rejuvenating the country through science and education and providing a permanent solution to related issues by guaranteeing the healthy development of rural compulsory education; it is a major measure for reducing farmers' burden and stimulating the sustained rural economic and social development as well as the necessary requirement for changing government functions and improving the socialist market economic structure.
The Vice-Premier stressed that the key to adjusting and improving the rural compulsory education management system is to bring about two major changes, i.e., shifting the responsibility for rural compulsory education from farmers to government and from township level to county level.
He also emphasized that to further improve the rural compulsory education management system, the focus should be placed on the following items of work:
First, establishing a stable and effective mechanism guaranteeing the input of rural compulsory educational funds, so as to guarantee full and timely payment of wages for teaching staff, public operational funds for rural compulsory education schools, and funds for the renovation of dilapidated buildings of rural middle and primary schools.
Second, intensifying supervision, establishing a public-notice system, an offense-reporting system, and a system for investigating and affixing responsibility for a matter or a case, and guaranteeing the availability and effective use of rural compulsory educational funds.
Third, places undergoing tax-for-fee reform should adopt effective measures to ensure that rural compulsory educational funds are higher than the pre-reform level.
Fourth, helping poverty-stricken areas to actively develop modern distant education and e-education, enjoy super-quality educational resources, and bring about a leaping development of compulsory education.
Fifth, strengthening education-related counterpart assistance work, vigorously developing routine grant-in-aid activities, so as to help students from families with financial difficulties to complete their academic studies.
Commentary: Policy for Permanent Solution of Problems, Move to People's Benefits
In commenting the above news report, the author, a People's Daily commentator, expressed in this article, under the above headline, his views in the following:
Developing rural compulsory education is an important component part of the strategy for rejuvenating the country through science and education, it is a major event that concerns improvement of the qualities of hundreds of millions of rural youngsters, the smooth development of material development and cultural and ethical progress in the countryside, and the overall situation regarding the socialist modernization drive.
The article said, last year, the State Council made the decision on adjusting and improving the rural compulsory education management system and on introducing a new system under which local governments, led by the State Council, assume responsibilities and exercise management at different levels, with the county level taking the main responsibility. This decision, aimed at promoting the sound development of rural compulsory education, has grasped the fundamental and crucial points relating to the development of current rural compulsory education. It is a decision for providing permanent solution to difficulties and problems facing rural compulsory education.
The commentary added, in an effort to further push this item of work, the General Office of the State Council recently issued to the lower levels the Circular Concerning Perfecting the Rural Compulsory Education Management System, and called a teleconference to make special arrangements, this fully demonstrates the great attention paid by the Party Central Committee and the State Council to this item of work.
Adjusting and perfecting the rural compulsory education management system and boosting the development of rural education, the article said, is an important content of applying the "three represents" thinking and an important link in implementing the strategy for developing the country through science and education and guaranteeing the sound development of rural compulsory education and a major measure for reducing farmers' burden and propelling the sustained rural economic and social development.
The sustained and sound development of rural compulsory education, the article continued, has a direct bearing on the improvement of the qualities of the broad masses of rural laborers and the development of agricultural productive forces, on the fundamental interests of the hundreds of millions of farmers. Only when rural compulsory education is properly grasped and when the cultural and scientific level of farmers is raised, can agricultural modernization be realized, rural prosperity achieved and farmers become affluent.
The commentary revealed that China's current rural compulsory education management system was introduced in the mid-1980s, under which compulsory education was run by farmers, this was rational to some extent at that time under the circumstance in which the State was short of financial resources. However, along with the development of the situation, this system has increasingly revealed its unsuitability to the development of rural compulsory education. This is manifest mainly in the following:
The input of rural compulsory educational funds relied mainly on township finance and farmers, but the majority of China's rural areas are economically still undeveloped, it is difficult for township financial resources to prop up the development of rural compulsory education, and farmers can't stand the heavy load. This year, the State has decided to expand experiment with the tax-for-fee reform in the rural areas, this decision is a major measure to reduce farmers' burden and develop the rural economy. In order to expedite the sound development of rural compulsory education, it is imperative to institute the education management system under which the county government takes the main responsibility.
The commentary further pointed out that adjusting and perfecting the rural compulsory education management system is also the necessary requirement for changing government functions and improving the socialist market economic structure. Along with the gradual establishment and improvement of China's socialist market economic structure, government functions will inevitably change over to the field of community management and public service. Letting the government run compulsory education is a way to strengthen government functions and an important indication of the people's government service to the interests of the people.
Adjusting and perfecting the rural compulsory education management system, the article added, is centered on realizing two major changes: i.e., shifting the responsibility for rural compulsory education from farmers to government; and from the township level to the county level.
The article urged that efforts must be stepped up to carry out the task of adjusting and perfecting rural compulsory education management system. Since this decision of the State Council was made, Party committees and governments at all levels have, acting upon the spirit of the decision, actively adjusted and perfected the said system and have scored great achievements in this regard. Early this year, over two-thirds of the counties nationwide took upon themselves the responsibility for managing rural middle and primary schools, and there has been a fairly big surge in the input for rural compulsory education.
The article said in conclusion, practice proves that the Party Central Committee's decision on adjusting and perfecting the rural compulsory education management system is entirely correct, and enjoys the support of the people and conforms to their will.
(People's Daily April 27, 2002)