Am­bi­tious ed­u­ca­tion plan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

HOW­EVER UN­DER­DE­VEL­OPED A RE­GION IS, schools should al­ways get the most sup­port so they can pro­vide as good an ed­u­ca­tion as pos­si­ble to chil­dren, who are the fu­ture of a re­gion.

And this is what the State Coun­cil in­tends to do. On Wed­nes­day, it an­nounced it will of­fer the ut­most sup­port for a fun­da­men­tal im­prove­ment of teach­ing con­di­tions in the un­der­de­vel­oped cen­tral and western ar­eas of the coun­try. The aid will also be ex­tended to poverty-stricken re­gions in other parts of the coun­try.

In three to five years, school build­ings that meet an­ti­seis­mic and fire preven­tion stan­dards will be con­structed, ba­sic teach­ing fa­cil­i­ties, such as desks, chairs, books, ex­per­i­men­tal equip­ment and play­grounds, will be pro­vided to meet the needs of de­cent ed­u­ca­tion. Dor­mi­to­ries, toi­lets, can­teens, drink­ing wa­ter fa­cil­i­ties and bath­rooms will also be con­structed or im­proved to meet the ba­sic needs of cam­pus life for both stu­dents and teach­ers. Qual­ity teach­ers will also be trained to im­prove the teach­ing qual­ity in th­ese ar­eas.

Pro­vin­cial level gov­ern­ments will co­or­di­nate the use of funds pro­vided to im­ple­ment the plan. The State Coun­cil re­quires that the money be spent in com­plete trans­parency, lest money is di­verted for other pur­poses or em­bez­zled or ex­ploited in one way or another.

This plan should serve as an eye-opener and re­minder to lo­cal gov­ern­ments and their lead­ers that sound ed­u­ca­tion lays a solid foun­da­tion for long-term and sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and so­cial progress.

There have been re­ports about poverty-stricken coun­ties that have built lux­u­ri­ous of­fice build­ings in­stead of al­lo­cat­ing money to im­prove the mis­er­able con­di­tions of lo­cal schools. The cen­tral gov­ern­ment plan should put to shame such lo­cal gov­ern­ments and their lead­ers.

Nev­er­the­less, with­out a mech­a­nism to place un­der tight su­per­vi­sion the en­tire process of where and how the money is spent, the spe­cial funds that will be al­lo­cated to im­ple­ment this plan will likely be chan­neled to other ar­eas or ex­ploited by pre­fec­ture, county and town­ship gov­ern­ments or em­bez­zled by cor­rupt of­fi­cials.

What is ur­gently needed are strict rules, and su­per­vi­sion to en­sure their en­force­ment, to make sure the money is spent as in­tended.

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