Provincial-level governments will be assessed each year on their efforts to develop local education, according to a circular released by the central government.
The authorities should conduct self-inspections and have their performance assessed by a third-party organization annually in areas such as boosting educational quality and equity, implementing national education projects and reforms, and ensuring campus safety, the circular said.
The results of the assessments will be used for judging the overall performance of provincial-level officials, it said.
“Those who fail to perform their duties in improving local education will be held accountable,” He Xiuchao, director of the Ministry of Education’s Supervision Bureau, said on June 21. “That means, for example, in provinces where serious accidents occur at schools or education data is found to be fabricated, officials involved will be publicly criticized and punished.”
The bureau is responsible for supervising provinces’ self-inspections and third-party assessments, and will list issues that should be rectified and track remedial measures taken by local governments.
The circular aims to give provincial governments more influence in the development of local education. It flows from a 2010 development plan by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, that provincial governments should strengthen their administration and supervision of education.
Du Xiaoli, director of the Shanghai Institute of Human Resources Development, said the circular will allow provincial governments to set their own goals for educational development in accordance with their specific situations.
“In addition, through rewards and punishments, provincial governments will make the development of local education a priority, bringing improvements in the capacity and quality of education,” Du said.
Tian Huisheng, director of the National Institute of Education Sciences, said the measure indicates that greater attention from provincial governments means problems and deficiencies existing in local education systems will be easier to find.
“China has the world’s largest number of people receiving education. Strengthening provincial governments’ administration of education is likely to accelerate the development of education from the grassroots,” Tian said.