A total of 1,824 counties (including county-level districts and cities) across China had passed a national assessment of balanced development in compulsory education by the end of 2016, accounting for 62.4 percent of all counties in the country, said an official from China’s Ministry of Education on Feb 23.
He Xiuchao, director of the ministry’s Education Supervision Bureau, said at a press conference in Beijing that among the 1,824 counties, 740 are in the eastern region of the country, 556 in the central region and 528 in the western region. All counties in Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian provinces passed the assessment.
According to the National Mid-term Educational Reform and Development Plan (2010-2020), efforts should be made to improve the quality of the nine years of compulsory education across the nation and balance its development.
China has increased financing for its central and western regions as well as rural areas, in order to narrow the educational gap between various regions and between urban and rural areas. Meanwhile, local governments are trying to balance the development of compulsory education at the county level by making full use of quality educational resources and helping poorly performing schools.
Since China began supervising and assessing the balance of development in compulsory education at the county level in 2013, a total of 2.73 trillion yuan (about $397 billion) has been spent on compulsory education, 12,000 new schools have been built and approximately 1.3 million teachers have been added around the country.
The ministry released a notice on its website on Feb 22, stressing that parents or guardians are not allowed to educate their children at home without permission from educational authorities.
According to China’s Compulsory Education Law, all school-age children must attend primary and junior middle school.
“For children who cannot attend school due to reasons such as poor physical health, their parents or guardians should report to local educational authorities and ask for a delay in enrollment,” the notice said. “They cannot give children home schooling as a substitute for school education if they fail to gain permission from the authorities.”
The notice was released against a backdrop of an increasing number of students being educated at home or attending small, private teaching institutes, China Daily reported.