European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.

2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687

Private Schools for Low-Income Families in Rural Gansu, China
Qiang Liu, PhD Assistant Professor, Institute of International and Comparative Education, Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, CHINA, 100875 James Tooley, PhD Professor and Director, E.G. West Centre, School of Education, Communications, and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, UK, NE1 7RU Abstract Research found 586 private schools in villages in Gansu province, enrolling 59,958 pupils; 309 public schools were located for comparison. Private schools had significantly higher female enrolment than public schools, while pupil-teacher ratios were equivalent. Teacher salaries were significantly lower in private than public schools, although fees charged in both were equivalent. Only a small minority of private schools received local government subsidy. Private schools were reportedly established because public schools were too far away. There was no significant difference regarding teaching activity in public or private schools. Implications of these findings for national and international development policy are outlined (100 words). Key words: Development Policy, Public-private comparisons, Poverty. 1. Background and context It is widely accepted that a private education sector, charging low fees, has emerged in many developing countries. For instance, the Oxfam Education Report suggests that ‘… the notion that private schools are servicing the needs of a small minority of wealthy parents is misplaced … a lower cost private sector has emerged to meet the demands of poor households’ (Watkins, 2000, pp 229-230). The phenomenon is widely reported in southern Asia: for example, the Probe Team (1999) researching rural villages in four north Indian states reports that ‘even among poor families and disadvantaged communities, one finds parents who make great sacrifices to send some or all of their children to private schools, so disillusioned are they with government schools’ (p. 103). For the poor in Calcutta (Kolkata) there has been a ‘mushrooming of privately managed unregulated … primary schools’ (Nambissan. 2003, p. 52). Reporting on evidence from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, De et al (2002) note that in urban and rural areas, a large number of primary schools charging low fees have emerged (p. 148). Alderman et al, (2001, 2003) report on similar findings from Pakistan. Venkatanarayana, (2004), notes the ‘growing demand’ for low fee private schools in rural Andhra Pradesh, India (p. 40). Is the situation similar in China? There is a growing interest in the rapid development of private education in general in China. From being outlawed under Chairman Mao Zedong in the 1950s, it emerged after the policy of ‘Reform and Opening Up’ in 1978. Progress has accelerated to create a situation described by commentators as ‘mushrooming’, ‘flourishing’, ‘blooming’, and ‘thriving’, (Lu and Chen, 2001; Ma, 1998; Mok, 1996). There have been numerous press reports on the growth of private schooling in China, (see for example, Bi, 2000; Chen, 2000, 2002; China Daily, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002a, 2002b; Dong, 1999, Dong and Huang, 2002, Gao, 2001, Guangming Daily, 2002, Guo, 1999, Hao, 2002, Huang, 2002, Li, 2001a, 2001b, Lu and Chen, 2001, Lv, 2000a, 2000b, Xia and Xu, 2001, Xiong, 2001). Academic studies have pointed to the development and socio-economic impact of private education in general (see for example, Chen and Li, 2001; Feng, 2001; He, 2001; Wang, 1997; Wu, 1999, 2000; Xi, 1996; LaRocque and Jacobsen, 2000); the growth and impact of private education in particular provinces, (e.g., Lin, 2001; Liu, 1998; Liu and Hu, 2000; Ma, 2002; Qu, 2001; Wen and Jin, 2001), comparisons between this growth in different provinces (Wang, 1999) and discussion of desirable regulatory frameworks (Hou, 2001; Wu, 2000; Zhang, 2002). However, there is only limited information on the presence of a low-cost private education sector. Liu (2002) points to the ‘booming’ of 100 private schools in villages in central Shaanxi Plain, accounting for one seventh total primary school enrolment. Zhou (2001) notes the growth of private education in rural areas in North China. Lin (1997) suggests that private educational initiatives are important in rural areas. It is also reported that low fee


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
private schools have been opened for children of itinerant workers, most of whom were surplus labourers from the countryside seeking jobs in big cities (China Daily, 2000). The research reported here, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, aimed to supplement this limited and mainly anecdotal evidence, by conducting a detailed survey of the nature and extent of private provision – if any – in the villages of rural Gansu, one of the poorest parts of China, and to effect some comparisons between this provision and that offered in state or public education. This research was part of a large international study, conducted between April 2003 and December 2005 also in sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria) and India, reported elsewhere. Gansu, one of China’s five northwest provinces, was chosen for the study because it is one of China’s least developed provinces. In 2001, Gansu’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was 4,165 Yuan (US$518.03), ranking 30th among China’s 31 provinces and autonomous regions. The average rural per capita income was only 1,500 Yuan ($186.57), 63% of the national average, ranking 28th. About 50% of Gansu’s rural population is living below the poverty line of 1,000 Yuan ($124.38) per capita per year, compared to 3% nationwide (Asia Development Bank, 2003, pp. 2-3). Gansu reported about 1.69 million people living under the absolute poverty line of 637 Yuan ($79.23) per person per year. Gansu has 14 municipalities and prefectures that further administer 87 counties and districts and 1,660 townships and sub districts, including 7 autonomous counties and 40 ethnic minority townships. Gansu’s total land area is 454,430 km. In the 2000 national census, the population was 25.6 million people, 76% living in rural areas. In Gansu, 36.91% of the population have completed primary school (Gansu Statistics Bureau, 2001, National Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Before moving on, it is worth noting that there are three names for private education in current usage in China: ‘Shehui Liliang Banxue’ is used in official documents; literally translated it means schools run by ‘social forces’. ‘Si Li’, translated literally as ‘privately run’, is rarely used, perhaps because the first character ‘si’ has derogatory senses besides the meaning of ‘private’, such as “selfish” or “illegal”. Finally, ‘Min Ban’, translated literally as ‘people-run’, is the most popular name, widely used by providers, researchers, and journalists. Tsang (2000) suggests that ‘min ban’ are distinct from ‘private’ schools; the latter refers to schools sponsored and managed by private individuals or groups, funded through student tuition and other private sources, while the former are sponsored and managed by communities or collective organizations, and funded by the community and tuition fees. Others deem that private schools run by individuals are one type of people-run schools (Meng, 2001; Wang, 2001c). Lai (1994) suggests that the term ‘min ban’ is the preferred usage in China domestically, but that this should be translated as ‘private school’ for international usage (Lai, 1994). This is the usage followed in this paper. 2. Method The research was conducted from September to December 2004. A preliminary visit was made by the authors to check whether private schools could in fact be found in villages in Gansu. A week-long visit located five such schools in the mountains of Zhang County, Ding Xi prefecture. Following this, the team recruited the Gansu Yitong Marketing Research Company, a specialized research organization that utilizes a network of researchers across Gansu, to assist. This research used 48 research supervisors and 310 researchers, distributed across all 14 prefectures. All researchers and supervisors attended a two-day training session. The aim was to locate all private primary and secondary schools in rural Gansu. Pre-primary only schools were excluded, although this did not preclude finding schools that catered for nursery and primary or secondary sections. For purposes of comparison, researchers were asked to locate a public school ‘nearby’ to each located private school, defined as being within a maximum of one day’s travel for the researchers, who were travelling mainly on foot. Researchers were allocated to areas which they knew reasonably well and were permitted to obtain lists of private schools from the local education bureau, although they were warned that such lists may not be complete, and in addition they should inquire of local residents, e.g., in markets or on the street, the possibility of other schools existing, unacknowledged by local authorities. Researchers were trained in the use of an interview schedule for the school principal. They were also trained in the use of an observation schedule, which catalogued the facilities within the school – either in Class 4 (or, if there was no Class 4, the nearest other class to this) or available in the school as a whole (Only one aspect of this is reported below). Once the researchers identified the location of a private school, they were required to visit unannounced, and conduct the interview, which took approximately 15 minutes. After that, they asked to visit the school, to observe school inputs. During the implementation of the research, all researchers were strictly monitored. They were required to sign a Quality Guarantee Contract, which amongst other things confirmed that any researcher found guilty of fraud


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
would be dismissed without payment. All questionnaires from the school had to be stamped with the official school stamp and contact telephone number. Researcher were required to take a photograph of each school to prove that they had visited it. All schools were subsequently telephoned by the supervisors to check that the researchers had in fact conducted the survey and observation. Spot telephone and field checks were also conducted by one of the authors together with a smaller team to 30% of the schools located, in all 14 regions, to ensure that questionnaires had been correctly filled in, and also to check for any other private schools that may have been missed. 3. Results 3.1 Schools In total, the researchers found 688 private primary and secondary schools. Of these, the vast majority, 589 (85.6%) were located in villages, as opposed to cities or county towns, of interest to this research project. However, three of these were found to be not for villagers themselves, but were located in villages apparently to take advantage of cheap land, and functioned either as boarding schools or by bussing day pupils from the capital city. These three schools charged fees ranging from RMB 1,500 ($186.57) to 20,000 ($2487.56) per term – far above the fee range for the schools serving village people. We eliminated these schools from our analysis. That is, we analysed data from 586 private schools, located in the villages and serving village populations. We define these as ‘private schools for the poor’. This figure is a lower bound, as we cannot be sure we found all of the schools, which were not on the provincial list of schools: Officially in Gansu province there were only 82 private primary and secondary schools (senior high, five junior high and 26 primary), all of which are based in the cities and larger towns, not in villages (Gansu Statistics Bureau, 2004, p. 738). The researchers also identified 309 government schools that were in villages “nearby” (as defined above) to the private schools; these form the basis of comparisons here. (The number is smaller than the total private schools because in some areas, the researchers found no “nearby” public schools). It was observed by the research team that the public schools were normally in the less remote and larger villages. These were only a very small fraction of the total in Gansu – there are 15,635 primary schools alone (Gansu Statistics Bureau, 2004). Table I Pupil enrolment in all village private schools and sample public schools, Gansu Total Number of Schools Mean Number of Students Reporting Students total students pre3157 586 5.39 Private primary 54807 586 93.53 Schools total students primary total students junior 403 586 .69 secondary total students senior 1591 586 2.72 secondary total students 59958 586 102.32 total students pre3764 309 12.18 Public primary 85648 309 277.18 Schools total students primary total students junior 25150 309 81.39 secondary total students senior 446 309 1.44 secondary total students 115008 309 372.19 total students pre6921 895 7.73 primary total students primary 140455 895 156.93 total students junior Total 25553 895 28.55 secondary total students senior 2037 895 2.28 secondary total students 174966 895 195.48 Source: Census of schools


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
Table II Pupil enrolment by gender Number of schools reporting 176 578 Mean percentage of girls 48.26 46.76 37.44 33.25 47.45 44.54 42.38 19.06 47.96 46.02 42.02 31.48 Std. Deviation 17.456 11.149 13.214 15.732 11.175 9.156 9.342 . 15.433 10.578 9.606 15.405

proportion girls pre-primary proportion girls primary Private proportion girls junior 4 Schools secondary proportion girls senior 7 secondary proportion girls pre-primary 104 proportion girls primary 286 Public proportion girls junior 50 Schools secondary proportion girls senior 1 secondary proportion girls pre-primary 278 proportion girls primary 864 proportion girls junior Total 54 secondary proportion girls senior 8 secondary Source: Census of schools Table III Pupil-Teacher Ratio by School Management Type Count Maximum Minimum Private Schools 586 71.67 3.33 Public Schools 309 263.00 3.86 Source: Census of schools

Mean 25.03 25.08

Median 23.59 23.65

Mode 18.00 24.00

3.2 Pupil enrolment Researchers asked school principals for the number of children enrolled, by class, checking this data against registration documents. In the 586 private schools there were 59,958 children enrolled, a mean of 102 children per school (Table I). The largest school had 540 students, while the smallest had five. The majority of children (54,807) enrolled were at the primary level. Officially, there are only 6,788 students studying in private primary schools (which did not include the schools we found, as they were not on the official Provincial list), and 3,227,592 pupils in government primary schools in Gansu (Gansu Statistics Bureau, 2004, p. 738). That is, we suggest a total enrolment of 3,289,187 in primary schools, of which about 1.87% of children (61,595) are in private primary schools. For purposes of comparison, in the 309 public schools researched, total enrolment was reported to be 115,008, of which 85,648 were in primary sections. 3.3 Gender of Pupils Enrolment was broken down by gender (Table II). At all levels apart from junior secondary (although there are only a small number of reporting schools here), we find that the private schools have a higher percentage of female enrolment than public schools. At primary level, the mean percentage of girls in a private school is 46.76% compared with 44.54% in a public school. Using the t-test for independent samples shows a significant difference between private and public schools for the mean proportion of girls at primary school (t=3.116, df=676.675, p<0.05). 3.4 Teachers, Pupil-Teacher Ratio and Teacher Salaries There were 2,480 teachers reported in private schools (and 5,029 in the 309 public schools). The mean number of teachers in the private schools was four, (compared to 16 in the public schools). In both private and public schools, the minimum number of teachers was one, while the maximum number was 38 (private) and 102 (public). Regarding pupil-teacher ratios, these were similar in public and private schools: 25.03 in private, compared to 25.08 in public schools (Table III). Teacher salaries, however, were very different in private and public schools (Table IV). We asked school managers for the minimum monthly, maximum monthly and average monthly salaries paid to the teachers. In the private schools, the mean reported values were RMB 173.95 (minimum), RMB 750.81 (maximum) and RMB 479.37 (average). In the public schools, however, the mean reported values were RMB 302.73, (minimum),


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
RMB 1217.26 (maximum) and RMB (789.48) (average). The mean average teacher salary was thus nearly twice as high in the public as the private schools. Table IV Average Minimum and Maximum Teacher Monthly Salary by Management Type Count Maximum Minimum Mean 1500.00 14.00 173.95 Minimum 586 ($186.57) ($1.74) ($21.64) Private 2700.00 15.00 750.81 Maximum 586 Schools ($335.82) ($1.87) ($93.38) 6362.20 15.00 479.37 Average 586 ($791.32) ($1.87) ($59.62) 1100.00 15.00 302.73 Minimum 309 ($136.82) ($1.87) ($37.65) Public Schools 1900.00 200.00 1217.26 Maximum 309 ($236.32) ($24.88) ($151.40) 1300.00 180.00 789.48 Average 309 ($161.69) ($22.39) ($98.19) Source: Census of schools 3.5 Age of schools The school managers were asked when their school was established. 571 of the private schools (and 306 of the public schools) provided this information, which has been tabulated in intervals of five years. Although differences between school types are significantly different overall, we can see that the vast majority of both types of schools are greater than 20 years old – 81.7% of private and 91.2% public – that is, dating back almost to the policy of ‘Reform and Opening Up’ in 1978. Around 8% of the private schools are aged 16-20 years, while about 4% are aged 11-15 years. Only a small proportion (7%) was established between 1995 and 2004 (Table V). 3.6 School Fees and other charges We asked school managers for the fees charged in their schools. Six private schools (1.0%) and three public schools (1.0%) reported that they did not charge any fees. The vast majority of the schools charged fees, by the semester (i.e., twice annually). The results for primary and pre-primary sections are shown in Table VI. The mean fees in private schools ranged from RMB 68.79 ($8.56) in Grade 1 to RMB 78.66 ($9.78) in Grade 6. In public schools the mean fees were slightly higher at all grades except 5 and 6. However, using the t-test for independent samples, we see that there were no significant differences between private and public schools in the mean fees charged, except at pre-primary level (pre-primary: t=-2.485, df=269, p<0.05; grade 1: t=-0.965, df=861, p>0.05; grade 2: t=-0.920, df=837, p>0.05; grade 3: t=-0.938, df=697, p>0.05; grade 4: t=-0.572, df=586, p>0.05; grade 5: t=0.250, df=525, p>0.05; grade 6: t=1.347, df=123, p>0.05). 3.7 Type of Management of Private Schools The majority of private schools were reportedly managed by a group of villagers (68.8%), while the remainder were predominantly managed by individual proprietors (30.5%). Only tiny numbers (one school in each case) were managed by a religious organization or charitable trust, while none were managed by commercial companies (Table VII). In terms of the definitions of private schools in China given above by Tsang (2000), we could say that the majority of schools were min ban, while a significant minority were si li. We asked if schools received any subsidy from government – in all cases this was reported as from local government. Only a small minority reported that they did – 70 schools (11.9%, Table VIII). The rest reported no subsidy from government. The mean amount of government subsidy was reported to be RMB 14,935 ($1857.59) per annum. Considering government subsidies per teacher and per pupil, taking into account all private schools (i.e., including this with zero subsidy) we find that the mean subsidy per teacher was RMB 408.82 ($50.85) per annum, while per pupil it was RMB 18.64 ($2.32) per annum. If we consider only those schools receiving government subsidy, then this rises to a mean of RMB 3,422 ($425.62) per teacher per annum and RMB 156.06 ($19.41) per pupil per annum. Comparing schools run by villagers and proprietors only, there is a significant difference between these in whether they receive government subsidy or not – with significantly more schools run by the villagers receiving subsidy (χ2 = 5.219, df=1, Significant, p<0.05): 13.9% were run by villagers reported some local government subsidy, compared to 7.3% of those run by proprietors.


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
Table V Age of Schools by Management Type Management Type Private Schools Public Schools Total

2000 – 2004 (0 – 5 Years) 23 4.0% 4 1.3% 27 3.0%

1995 – 1999 (6 – 10 Years) 17 3.0% 9 2.9% 26 3.0%

1990 – 1994 (11 – 15 Years) 21 3.7% 5 1.6% 26 3.0%

1985 – 1989 (16 – 20 Years) 44 7.7% 9 2.9% 53 6.0%

1984 and Older (Greater than 20 Year) 470 81.7% 279 91.2% 749 85.0%

Total 575 100.0% 306 100.0% 881 100.0%

Note: χ = 15.226, df=4, Significant, p<0.05 Source: Census of schools Table VI Semester fees in private and public schools Number of Schools Reporting Private Pre - Primary 172 Schools Grade 1 577 Grade 2 553 Grade 3 416 Grade 4 305 Grade 5 253 Grade 6 44 Public Pre - Primary 99 Schools Grade 1 286 Grade 2 286 Grade 3 283 Grade 4 283 Grade 5 274 Grade 6 81 Total Pre - Primary 279 Grade 1 863 Grade 2 839 Grade 3 699 Grade 4 588 Grade 5 527 Grade 6 125 Source: Census of Schools Table VII Type of Management in Private Schools Frequency Villagers 403 Proprietor 179 Religious group 1 Trust or charity 1 Other 2 Total 586 Source: Census of Schools

Mean Term Fee 72.10 ($8.97) 68.79 ($8.58) 68.91 ($8.57) 69.43 ($8.64) 70.65 ($8.79) 71.94 ($8.95) 78.66 ($9.78) 83.15 ($10.34) 70.07 ($8.72) 70.12 ($8.72) 70.71 ($8.79) 71.43 ($8.88) 71.59 ($8.90) 73.27 ($9.11) 76.13 ($9.47) 69.21 ($8.61) 69.32 ($8.62) 69.95 ($8.70) 71.03 ($8.83) 17.76 ($2.21) 75.17 ($9.35)

Std. Deviation 32.476 19.117 18.873 18.961 16.576 15.521 25.914 39.619 16.482 15.904 15.750 16.244 16.496 18.438 18.438 36.373 35.927 35.950 35.582 18.286 17.915

Valid Percent 68.8% 30.5% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3% 100.0%

3.11 Reasons for Establishing Private Schools Private school managers were asked an open question to give their reasons for setting up their school. 582 schools responded to this question. The answers were coded under ten headings(Table IX). The most reported


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
reason was for overcoming problems of children traveling great distances to public schools, thereby eliminating parental worries, reported by 438 schools (75.3% of total private schools reporting). It was clear from follow-up interviews with school managers that the public schools were too far from their village – sometimes requiring children to walk for five or six hours to reach – so this was the major reason for setting up a private school in the village itself. Other frequently reported reasons came under the headings ‘Eliminating illiteracy’ (28.2%) and making up the shortcomings of public education (24.7%). Only a very small number of managers reported that they had set up the school in order to make a profit or surplus income (0.5%), to solve problems of village unemployment (presumably by employing teachers), (0.3%), or because the government had requested villagers to open a private school (0.3%). 3.12 Activity of the teacher During the survey, after interviewing the school managers, the researchers also asked to tour the schools in person. In particular, he or she was asked to visit Class 4, or the nearest class, during a time when teaching should have been taking place (e.g. if there was an assembly or break period, the researchers waited until after these had finished). Observations were allowed in all 895 of the schools taking part in the Census. How much teaching activity was going on when the researcher called, without prior notice, in classrooms when there was timetabled teaching supposed to be going on? ‘Teaching’ was defined as when the teacher was supervising the class in some activities, including the teachers supervising pupils reading aloud or doing their own work, or pupils themselves leading the class at the blackboard, under supervision of the teacher. If the class teacher was absent, two situations could arise. Sometimes, no teacher would be present with the class, in which case, the teacher would be marked as ‘absent’. However, if a substitute teacher had been put to supervise the class, in any of the above ways, then this was noted by the researcher as ‘Minding the Class’, and included in the table below as ‘teaching’. Non-teaching activities are therefore defined as where the teacher is not present in the classroom when he or she should have been – e.g. being in the staffroom, sleeping, eating, talking, or engaged in some other non – teaching activity around the school. Analyzing the survey results, we found that 92.2% of teachers in private schools were teaching, compared to 89.3% of government teachers. However, these differences were not statistically significant (Table X). Table VIII Subsidies from local government by private school management type Subsidies from local government Total No Yes Villagers 347 56 403 86.1% 13.9% 100.0% Proprietor 166 13 179 92.7% 7.3% 100.0% Other 3 1 4 75.0% 25.0% 100.0% Total 516 70 586 88.1% 11.9% 100.0% Source: Census of schools Table IX Reasons for Establishing Private Schools in Villages of Gansu Province Number of Reasons of Establishing the PUA School the Schools Overcoming problem of children traveling great distance to public 438 school Eliminating illiteracy 164 Making up shortcomings of public education 144 A devotion to the common good 90 Increasing educational opportunities 18 Making up shortcomings of family education 14 Making profit/surplus income 3 Solving problems of village unemployment 2 After “Open – Up and Reform” Policy, the government asked every 2 village to set up a school. Raising standards of English 1 Source: Census of schools

% of private schools reporting 75.3% 28.2% 24.7% 15.5% 3.1% 2.4% 0.5% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2%


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687

Table X Activity of Teachers by Management Type Activity of the Teachers Teaching Non - Teaching Absent 540 40 6 92.2% 276 89.3% 818 91.2% 6.8% 31 10.0% 71 7.9% 1.0% 2 .6% 8 .9% Total 586 100.0% 311 100.0% 895 100.0%

Count % within public or private schools Public School Count % within public or private schools Total Count % within public or private schools Note: χ2 = 3.121, df = 2. Not Significant, p>0.05 Source: Survey of Inputs

Private school

4. Conclusion and discussion The phenomenon of private schools serving the poor, charging low fees, has been widely documented internationally. However, apart from press reports, there does not seem to be much data available on the existence of the sector in China, particularly in rural areas. This research, part of a large international study, examined the nature and extent of private schools in villages in Gansu province, one of the poorest regions of China. A team of researchers found 586 private schools in the villages of Gansu, serving village people, (‘private schools for the poor’) enrolling a total of 59,958 pupils. What are the implications of these findings? First, we believe that this research has indicated the existence of a private education sector that appears to have previously been unnoticed, and which could usefully be brought to the attention of the national and international communities. Second, it would seem that the existence of this sector has implications for development policy, both for the Chinese government and for international development agencies. Regarding the latter, it is notable that the large aid efforts for education in Gansu province by the European Union (totalling Euros 15 million (about $18 million) over a five-year period and the British Department for International Development totalling £12.5 million, ($20.83 million) over an 6 year period are both aimed solely at improving public schools. The EU project includes teacher training, improving facilities and providing scholarships to ‘disadvantaged but excellent students’, (EU-China Gansu Basic Education Project, no date, p.2), with the aim of reducing educational inequity (p. 4). The DfID project also aims to ‘reduce the inequalities which exist in the education system’ (Gansu Basic Education Project, no date, p. 1), through the introduction of school development plans (SDPs), teacher training and scholarships for the ‘poorest and most disadvantaged pupils’, especially girls (p. 5). However, it was notable in our research that we came across public schools under these programmes that were situated in the less remote and larger villages. The private schools that were in the most remote and inaccessible villages did not receive any of the funding – and it was suggested by our respondents that the public schools, including those receiving development aid, were too inaccessible to pupils in these remote villages to be of any benefit to them. One implication of the research findings is that, if reaching the poorest is a development goal, then using at least some funds to raise the quality of, and improve access to, private schools may be more effective than targeting only public schools. Similarly, the Chinese government is particularly concerned with improving basic education in Western China, including Gansu. It earmarked funds of 10 billion RMB ($1.2 billion) in 2004 for rural compulsory education, and will invest 10 billion RMB ($1.2 billion) over four years to build 7,730 boarding schools for 2.03 million students in poverty-stricken areas, including Gansu. Further funds will go to improving public school infrastructure and facilities in these areas (China Education and Research Network, 2005). The emphasis on boarding facilities suggests that the government recognises that existing public schools are too remote to serve some of the poorest communities, and so moving children to the larger villages where there is a public school is one way of improving access for the most disadvantaged. However, such a policy will clearly have other implications for rural and family life – particularly if young people contribute to the economy in terms of helping around the home and farm after school.


European Journal of Developing Country Studies, Vol.2 2006 ISSN(paper)2668-3385 ISSN(online)2668-3687
An alternative policy is suggested by this research. That is, to recognise that private schools currently exist to serve the most remote villages, and that development funding could be channelled to help these improve, through grants or loans, to facilitate access to the poorest children through targeted scholarships, and/or to assist other villagers to open schools in areas not served by public schools. It was found that a limited amount of local government subsidy was already directed towards such private schools; it is suggested that this assistance might be extended. In this way, the poorest might be assisted without having to engage in a mass movement of children away from their home villages, with all its possible disadvantages. 5. References Aggarwal, Y. (2000) Public and Private Partnership in Primary Education in India: A Study of Unregistered Schools in Haryana (New Delhi: National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration). Asian Development Bank (Sep, 2003) Technical Assistance to the People’s Republic of China for Preparing the Gansu Roads Development Project (Philippines: Asian Development Bank). Bi, Quanzhong (2000), ‘The Significant Change of Schooling System: Non-Governmental Education in Zhejiang’, People’s Daily, 1st September. Chen, Baoyu and Li, Guoqiao (2001), Non-Governmental Higher Education with Rich Fruits, (Beijing, International Culture Publishing Corporation). Chen, Qiang (2002), ‘Private Colleges Achieving Remarkable Success in Henan’, China Education Daily, 22nd January. Chen, Xinggui (2000), ‘Rising Abruptly in Frontier of Western Development’, People’s Daily, 7th July. China Daily (1999), ‘Chinese Families Spend More on Child Education’, 3rd July. China Daily (2000), ‘Ministry Achieve Education Goals’, 19th April. China Daily (2001), ‘China Faces Challenge of Crowded Schools’, 19th October. China Daily (2002a), ‘Beijing: International School Established’, 22nd April. China Daily (2002b), ‘Equal Treatment in Education’, 29th June. China Education and Research Network (2005) Outline and Actions of China’s Education Reform and Development in 2005, [Internet], Available from: <> [Accessed Feb 5th, 2006]. De, A., Majumdar, M., Samson, M., and Noronha, C. (2002) Private Schools and Universal Elementary Education, in R. Govinda (Ed.) India Education Report: A Profile of Basic Education (Oxford and New Delhi: Oxford University Press) pp. 131 – 150. Dong, Bishui (1999), ‘Dual Investment in Education in Zhejiang ‘, China Youth Daily, 19th November. Dong, Bishui and Huang, Wen (2002), ‘A Number of Shareholding Schools Appearing’, China Youth Daily, 11th January. EU-China Basic Education Project Management Office (no date), EU-China Gansu Basic Education Project, Lanzhou, Gansu. Feng, Jianjun (2001), ‘Concept, Patterns and Features of Private and People-Run Schools’, Active State of NonGovernment Education, available: [Accessed Jan, 2006] Gao, Yaobin (2001a), ‘Shanxi Regulating Schools Run by Social Powers’, China Education Daily, 5th June. Gansu Basic Education Project (no date), Gansu Basic Education Project (GBEP), (Lanzhou, Gansu, DfID) Gansu Statistics Bureau (April, 2001) the Fifth Gansu Population Census Report (Chinese), [Internet], Available from: <> [Accessed Jan. 8th, 2006]. Gansu Statistics Bureau (2004) 2004 Gansu Yearbook, (Beijing, China Statistics Publishing House). Hao, Lidong (2002), ‘Non-Public Private Education Provides More Opportunities for Students’, China Today, 5. He, Zhiyi (2001), The Socio-Economic Study on Private Education in Guangdong (Guangzhou, Guangdong People’s Publishing House). Hou, Xiaojuan (2001), Several Issues Concerning the Drafting of the Law on Promotion of Non-Governmental Education, Information of Non-Governmental Education, 6, . Huang, Xinmao (2002b), ‘Make the Non-Governmental Education Bigger and Stronger’, China Education Daily, 25th February. Lai, Jianhua (1994), The Concept of Private Schools and their Proper Appellation, Educational Research, 3, pp. 25-29. LaRocque, Norman and Jacobsen, Veronica (2000), Minban: A Market and Regulatory Survey of private Education in China, A Report to Corporate Finance, Arthur Andersen. Li, Daojia (2001a), ‘Private Schools Mushrooming in North China City’, People’s Daily Online, available:


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