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Higher Learning Dilemma> Archive
UPDATED: September 15, 2009 NO. 37 SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
Should Poor Students Have Luxury Schooling?

Cheng Fang (Modern Express): We have to admit that most Chinese believe that the poor people should live in a poor lifestyle. Since it is a Hope school in an impoverished region, the school must be a shabby building. Who said that children in impoverished areas should not enjoy a beautiful school? It is China's many shabby and dilapidated schools that make this unusual Hope school strikingly luxurious and beautiful. We have no money to build all Hope schools so beautifully, but at least this one tells us that the poor also have the right to enjoy the best.

Xia Yucai (www.rednet.cn): The debate over this beautiful Hope school proves that for a long time. China has failed to put the young generation's education first, even though we know the young are the nation's hope and future. The whole society has already got used to investing as little as possible in education. As a result, when the 3.5-million yuan was spent on a Hope school it is criticized as "the most luxurious Hope school in China."

We have all noticed that in our neighbor Japan, when an earthquake strikes, people all rush to schools for protection, not to government buildings or stadiums as the Chinese do in China. The Japanese believe that they may allow any buildings to fall apart except school buildings. Therefore, in Japan, the most solid constructions are the schools, which are also the best equipped in various aspects. For a school building to be as solid as possible, a huge investment is inevitable. If we attach great importance to school buildings, as the Japanese Government does, the 3.5-million-yuan Hope school is not expensive at all. People's reaction to the cost here in China shows that the usual investment in schools is too little.

Spread it around

Yu Haijun (www.cnhubei.com): In most cases, to build a Hope school costs 200,000 yuan, but the cost of the China Overseas Three Gorges Hope School can help to set up 17 Hope schools. It's really a waste of money. The China Overseas Group said that they want to provide the children with the best school as long as the conditions allow, and they claimed that the school's equipment would never fall behind other schools in the following 50 years. This claim is going too far. Who knows what the situation will be in 50 years?

Currently, the state and society are making great efforts to provide students in backward areas with Hope schools. This is good news for students there. But there must be a rational planning for the building of Hope schools, or when student resources shrink year after year, many school buildings will be deserted and thus result in a huge waste of resources. The China Overseas Group donated money to build the school and it showed its social responsibility, but to build only one school for 3.5 million yuan seems unreasonable.

Xiao Hanjie (china.com.cn): We are not critical of leaving the best things to children, but this is not the primary question that Project Hope should resolve. The aim of the Hope primary school is to provide more chances for children to receive education. Today, there are many children having no opportunities to read. Under such a situation, how can Project Hope care more about some children while ignoring other children?

In recent years, Project Hope in some local areas has become a part of local image projects. Local government officials have been trying to burnish their own images by implementing Project Hope, which has broken the ideal and original purpose of this initiative.

The educational equity is an important part of social equity. The basic aim of building the Hope primary schools is to protect the rights of all children to receive equal education. When Project Hope becomes an image project, the rights of most children to get equal education will be deprived.

Hence, I think we should forbid the administrative authorities to interfere in Project Hope and build a sound supervision system to prevent local government officials interfering in the Project Hope.

Wang Mu (Changjiang Daily): The so-called "most beautiful Hope primary school" can only hold 531 migrant children, which is just a small part of migrant children of the Three Gorges Project. In fact, the total 3.5 million yuan can build 17 Hope primary schools, which can hold more than 9,000 children.

Only equal opportunities to receive education can build a solid foundation for those migrant children in the future. If there is only a luxurious Hope primary school, more children will lose the opportunity to receive education.

Xu Yunpeng (www.rednet.cn): The China Overseas Group is a wealthy group. It is a small matter for it to spend 3.5 million yuan building "China's most beautiful Hope primary school." However, we don't know what the group is looking for in the end. Does it want to build a school with the most beautiful facilities or with high-quality faculty? I believe the latter is what our children urgently need. Although the hardware is necessary for a school, the high-quality faculty and advanced educational equipment are more helpful to children.

Today, most of the migrant children are still studying in shabby and dangerous rooms. I think the China Overseas Group should build more schools for those children but not seek "sensationalism."

For poverty-stricken areas, it is urgent to let children receive education. But we should do so in accordance with the local actual conditions to help poor children, investing in children who really have urgent needs.

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