Rural schools to be upgraded
The State Council, China’s Cabinet, released a guideline on May 2 to improve facilities for primary and middle schools in rural areas and boost teacher welfare as part of the country’s endeavors to balance public services and revitalize the countryside.
Small schools in villages, with no more than 100 students, and boarding schools in towns, are the focus of the document.
Its goal was to develop rural education with better school planning, more public resources, and improved educational services. It required schools in villages be built near children’s homes. Students in first to third grade should not board at school, and commuting time should be no more than half an hour.
Small schools with just a few students can be merged with other schools.
The guideline urged improvement in school facilities, such as basic information technology equipment, facilities for arts and sports, better sanitation services, transportation and safety infrastructure.
Moreover, more incentives should encourage high-quality teachers to pursue careers at rural schools. Training programs to boost exchanges among teachers at rural and urban schools should be carried out, said the guideline.
Salary raises should be ensured for teachers working in rural schools. The guideline said average salaries for rural teachers should be approximate to, or more than, the average salaries for local governmental officials. Meanwhile, rural teachers will benefit from affordable housing projects, which will ease their financial burden when it comes to property purchases.
The document called on local governments to inject more investment into these schools, and promote the integration of education with the internet by installing networks and providing them with online teaching resources.
Construction approvals simplified
The State Council decided to cut the time required to open a business and start construction projects by half in bid to further improve the commercial environment.
The decision was made at a State Council executive meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on May 2. A number of measures will be carried out to shorten the time for reviewing construction projects.
The government will further reduce the number of items subject to government approvals with a simplified process. No requirements will be made for companies to file construction contracts and no reviews will be made for building efficiency design. Designs for fire control and civil air defense will be reviewed along with other construction plan documents.
The review and approval of a project will be subject to general assessment by the government, replacing the previous environmental impact and energy efficiency reviews.
Approval procedures for privately-invested small and medium-sized construction projects will also be simplified.
In the future, the government will integrate approval procedures into a single checklist that maps out all construction requirements, a single system for approval and inspection services, and a single application form.
Incentives for local governments
A notice was released on May 3 to announce incentives given to local governments that carried out policies and reforms adopted by the State Council.
These regions and local governments will be given either favorable policies or funds to further boost local development. The move aimed to encourage local governments and regions to show greater enthusiasm in implementing the central government’s major policies and measures.
According to inspections conducted by the State Council, 25 provincial-level regions, 82 cities and 116 counties will be granted with 24 incentive measures for their accomplishments in major policies last year, particularly in promoting the supply-side structural reform and optimizing the business environment. The notice said the country’s business environment was improved while reforms in domestic trade flows and innovation in the service sector proceeded well.
Hebei, Jiangsu, Shandong and several other provinces, which performed well in cutting production overcapacity in steel and coal, will be rewarded. Beijing, the provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu and Jiangxi, and Shenzhen in Guangdong province showed great performance in improving basic research and promoting innovation.
The notice said a healthy financial ecosystem was established in several provinces and cities, and fixed asset investment and public-private partnerships also saw good results.
Cities in Liaoning, Jilin, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces showcased outstanding performance in industrial transformation and strategic emerging industries, in part of pushing forward the national strategy of Made in China 2025.
Anhui, Jiangxi, Sichuan and some other provinces and autonomous regions were named and will be awarded for their efforts in poverty alleviation by efficiently relocating poor populations, renovating shantytowns and conducting favorable employment policies.