In September, a high school tuition free news made Tonggu, a small county town in Northwest Jiangxi with a population of only 140000, famous.
On September 10, teachers day, Tonggu County held the county education work commendation conference. Jiang Weibin, Secretary of the county Party committee, announced that since the second half of this year, Tonggu high school education has been free and all the tuition fees paid have been refunded. Tonggu has become the first county in Yichun City to implement tuition free high school education.
Small mountainous counties can also run large education. At one time, the name of the bronze drum spread all over the Internet, and a little praise was given. Some people began to compare, such as Tonggu poor county can free tuition, than Tonggu developed place why cant free? Whats more, I think its showing off. Unexpected disputes and pressures come along.
County finance pays the bill
Tonggu middle school is the key middle school in Jiangxi Province and the only high school in the county. In front of the school gate, there is still the 2019 college entrance examination report. This year, a total of 8 students have been admitted to 985 universities and 20 students have been admitted to 211 universities. The candidates with the highest scores in Chinese and science are 376 and 295 in the province, respectively. They have been admitted by Beijing Normal University and China University of science.
Such achievements are not obvious, but the news of free tuition in high school makes Tonggu middle school get more attention.
After the teachers Day commendation conference, Tonggu County Education and Sports Bureau soon released the news. After the beginning of school this autumn, the countys high school students tuition fee of 800 yuan per year will be paid by the countys finance, and the tuition fee for this school year will be exempted for more than 2.2 million yuan.
Li Zheng, director of the county education and Sports Bureau, also said that the tuition fees paid by more than 2000 senior high school students in Tonggu middle school this semester (the vocational high school students have already been exempted) will be returned to the students in full within one week, and the tuition fees can be returned more than 1 million yuan.
The move has won a lot of favorable comments from the outside world. Some critics believe that it reflects the sincerity of the local government in advocating learning and teaching. Especially for small counties with relatively weak economic foundation, more than 2 million yuan is put forward every year to exempt high school students from tuition fees, which is to fulfill the promise of no poverty education.
In fact, even in Jiangxi Province, Tonggu is not the first advocate of tuition free in high school. In Jiangxi, Dexing has implemented tuition free high school education since 2010, the earliest in the province. Since then, Hukou, Luxi and other counties have successively implemented the water test in Pingxiang City, which is adjacent to Yichun, since 2017. At present, it has realized the full coverage of tuition free for high school. From a national perspective, Inner Mongolia and other central and western provinces and regions have successively implemented 12 or even 15 years of free education.
However, the spontaneous exploration in these places has not been recognized and supported by the superiors. In August 2018, the general office of the State Council issued the opinions on further adjusting and optimizing the structure to improve the use efficiency of education funds, which mentioned that strictly implement the compulsory education law, adhere to the nine-year compulsory education system, and strictly prohibit the expansion of the implementation scope of free education policy at will. In February 2019, the peoples Government of Jiangxi Province issued specific implementation opinions to the whole province according to the deployment of the State Council and the actual situation of the province, reiterating the principle of no arbitrary expansion.
Some people who do not want to be named said that this policy will have the effect of competing with each other when it is implemented in the local ecology, which is what the higher government and the competent education department do not want to see.
China News Weekly called Jiangxi Provincial Department of education, relevant people said that high school tuition free is the decision of some local governments, the Provincial Department of education is inconvenient to say.
Airborne new secretary
On September 5, Weibin of the Yangtze River in Fengcheng City parachuted the bronze drum and took over as the county Party secretary. From September 5 to September 10, he announced the tuition free of high school, only five days before and after. Jiang has no choice but to pay attention to the tuition free high school. He told China News Weekly that many things were talked about at the education conference, but the fact that high school tuition free touched the sensitive nerves of the society.
Jiang Weibin said that the reason why he decided to carry out this policy is that Tonggu has its own particularity: first, the county seat is small, with only one high school; second, the high school is relatively weak, and it is in the stage of climbing, so he wants to boost his confidence by free tuition.
According to people familiar with the matter, Jiang Weibin once said that it is not conducive to the physical and mental development of students from a young age to study abroad. He hoped that children of Tonggu could stay in the local area to study.
In Yichun, there has always been a saying of fengzhanggao. Fengcheng, Zhangshu and Gaoan are adjacent and strong. Among them, Fengcheng is a county directly under the provincial government with a registered population of 1.48 million. Data shows that Tonggu Countys GDP of 4.986 billion yuan in 2018 is at the bottom of the city, even less than 1 / 10 of Fengcheng, which ranks first.
Zhang Qingyan, vice president in charge of political and educational work of Tonggu middle school, told China News Weekly that in the autumn of 2019, there were 2265 students in the school, 265 of whom were poor students. They were divided into five categories, i.e. filing cards, disabled students, education support, rural minimum security and urban minimum security. The proportion of poor students exceeded 10%.
A bulletin board of Tonggu middle school posted the charging standard of this semester, including 400 yuan for tuition, 15 yuan for experiment, 180 yuan for accommodation, and 600 yuan and 1100 yuan for textbook materials collected by the school according to different grades. Including the above items, the total amount of students tuition and miscellaneous fees is between 1015 yuan and 1695 yuan.
Next to this list of fees, there is also a list of students under the national scholarship and the central special lottery public welfare fund Zihui program. According to the central governments general high school student policy, students with filing and registration cards can receive three levels of financial aid: 750 yuan, 1000 yuan and 1250 yuan per semester. In addition, Chunlei class, founded by Yichun womens Federation, will provide 1500 yuan per student per year for 10 students, covering the whole high school for three years. Jiangxi provincial government will provide 5000 yuan / person government grants to the above five types of poor students who are admitted to universities.
Just one semester before the tuition fee of senior high school was completely exempted, 229 poor students have enjoyed the tuition fee free treatment according to the policy. From the central to the local, from the government to the people, a relatively perfect funding system provides effective support for the poor students here. Zhang Qingyan told China News Weekly that targeted poverty alleviation has wiped out all kinds of poor students, which is equivalent to the bottom line of the government. At the same time, people from all walks of life are paying attention to education, so there are very few students who drop out now. No student cant read because they dont have money, only they dont want to study, or they are out of school for health reasons. Zhang Qingyan said.
The 800 yuan tuition fee may be drizzle for people in big cities, but its not a small amount for ordinary people in Tonggu, a remote mountain area. Hu Wangxing, the headmaster of Tonggu middle school, used four words to describe the parents mood for the tuition exemption: overjoyed.
The classroom of Tonggu middle school is not closed at the back door, which is convenient for the headmaster to find the students who are not attentive in class during the patrol. Photographer / reporter Cheng Xinming
Rich county mode and poor county mode
High school tuition free is not a national game. But sporadic tests from the bottom up have been carried out for more than ten years.
In the autumn of 2007, Zhuhai took the lead in the implementation of tuition free high school education nationwide. The local education authorities said that as a special zone, Zhuhai should have the authority to make some decisions on basic education. Later, Shenmu of Shaanxi and Dexing of Jiangxi followed up. Up to now, there are many provinces including Xinjiang, Qinghai, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Henan and Jiangxi, as well as Shaanxi Province and Inner Mongolia region to realize tuition free of ordinary high school.
Although high school tuition free comes from the East, most of the people who actively implement this policy are concentrated in the central and western regions.
Taking Shaanxi Province as an example, in 2008, Shenmu county of Shaanxi Province first promoted the policy of free high school education in the whole province, and many counties and cities successively implemented it. In 2016, Shaanxi Province proposed to implement 13 years of free education in the whole province during the 13th Five Year Plan period, i.e. one year before school, nine years in primary school and three years in senior high school.
In 2017, Shaanxi Province had 473 ordinary high schools with 756600 students. For public high school students, 1600 yuan for provincial standardized high schools, 700 yuan for urban high schools and 400 yuan for rural high schools are free of tuition.
Wu Chunna, associate professor of Xian Peihua University, divides Shaanxis free education into rich county mode and poor county mode. She believes that the financial funds of Fuxian represented by Shenmu and Fugu are sufficient, and the earliest implementation of the tuition free policy for senior high school has set a model of financial resources inclining to education. But Ningshan, Langao and other national poverty-stricken counties, through reducing administrative and office costs, three public funds and other ways to tilt the financial funds to education. The determination of poor counties to run rich education fully shows that free education is not a question whether they can do it or not, but a question whether they want to do it or not. It is a decision makers awareness of education and peoples livelihood. Wu Chunna said.
There are different opinions on the cause of the free policy hot in the West and cold in the East. One point of view is that for the central and western regions, tuition free for high school reduces the family burden to a certain extent and promotes education equity. However, in the eastern region with relatively developed economy, the income of urban and rural residents is relatively high, and many families may not be very sensitive to tuition free, so the implementation is of little significance.
There is also a concern that free high schools will impact the countrys policy preference for vocational education. If high school education is free in all places, the advantages of secondary vocational education in the more developed areas may be reduced, and it is more difficult to achieve the balance between high school education and secondary vocational education.
Tian Zhilei, an assistant researcher at the China Institute of education, finance and science, Peking University, told China News Weekly that the reason why free high school education is more common in the central and western regions is that peoples educational needs are not so complex. However, in the eastern region, the competition for high-quality high schools has become white hot, and even the phenomenon of investing billions to build luxury high schools has emerged.
Academic circles also have different opinions on whether to comprehensively promote the tuition free policy of senior high school.
Wen Dongmao, a professor at the school of education of Peking University, once said that vocational high schools have been free of tuition, while ordinary high schools are not expensive at all, which can be fully borne by the states current financial resources. More researchers believe that free education should be done according to its ability, especially when it comes to expanding the number of years of compulsory education. High quality development of high school education is the main line of education reform.
After years of controversy, the Ministry of education gave a clear answer. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of education have carried out special research and widely listened to the opinions of all sectors of society on the issue of including high school education in compulsory education. It is generally believed that the current conditions are not mature. In September 2018, the Ministry of education made the above statement in its reply to the National Peoples Congresss proposal on the request to include the high school education in poverty-stricken counties into compulsory education.
As for the tuition free policy for ordinary high schools in some regions, the Ministry of education also considers it as an exploration rather than a compulsory education. Because compulsory education has the characteristics of universal, free, balanced and compulsory, if high school education is included in compulsory education, it means that the icing on the cake will become a duty. Some researchers even think that doing so is likely to cause chaos in the education system.
At present, high school education is mainly based on county-level investment. The support of county-level finance is very important to county-level high school. The Ministry of education requires all localities to implement the investment mechanism of ordinary high schools, which is mainly based on financial investment and supplemented by other channels of financing, improve the financial investment mechanism, and speed up the establishment and improvement of the average allocation system of ordinary high school students. At present, 25 provinces in China have set the minimum allocation standard for the average public funds of senior high school students. In 2018, the average public expenditure standard for senior high school students in Jiangxi Province formulated by Jiangxi Provincial Department of Finance and Department of education is 1000 yuan / student / academic year, which is implemented since that year.
In the context of economic downturn and fiscal tightening, there are fewer and fewer regions that actively expand the scope of free education. In the interview, a local government official said that the whole society is in a tight situation and education expenditure should be within its means. Even in the areas where free policies have been implemented, there are some tight educational funds due to the fluctuation of fiscal revenue.
According to the interviewees, how to improve the efficiency of fund use is a more important issue. Tian Zhilei, an assistant researcher at the China Institute of education, finance and science at Peking University, told China News Weekly that free is not the only purpose. On the contrary, if all educational products are provided by the government, the supply subject will become single, thus limiting the diversified choice. We cant get rid of the market mechanism just because its free. We cant eliminate the differentiated demand. To get a better education is the driving force of social progress.
Source: responsible editor of China News Weekly: Zhou Xinyi, nb12002