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For fairness in education

Updated: 2014-02-20 07:44
( China Daily)

Equal opportunities for education, compulsory education in particular, are an important part of social fairness. But this is no easy task since some officials with power in hand use their clout to send their children to the best schools, while wealthy families tend to do the same using money.

Leaving no room or as little room as possible for those with power or other social resources to send their children to the better public schools by abnormal means is urgently needed to ensure fairness in education.

The Ministry of Education has tried to do the right thing. It issued a notice on Monday requiring 19 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to make sure that 90 percent of their middle schools enroll students in their catchment areas by the year 2015, rising to 95 percent by 2017.

However, the ministry's notice doesn't say whether a local department of education will be penalized if it fails to fulfill the target. And what about the other 10 percent? The ministry fails to explain how the remaining 10 percent will enroll students.

When power and money play a key role in paving the way for a particular group of children to climb to the top of the social ladder, those without any special family background or wealth hardly have any chance to rise in the social hierarchy.

A society has little vitality when its social mobility is stagnant and leaves no access for smart people at the bottom of social strata to work their way up.

It is undoubtedly right for the ministry to reform the enrollment mechanism in big cities however hard it will be, as fairness in education is one of the foundations for social fairness.

In the reform, the enrollment procedure must be made transparent enough to make it impossible for people to cut corners by means of power or money.

The ministry must have clear specifications so that school principals who bend the rules are punished.

Schools with a good reputation should bear in mind, it is important they enroll excellent students no matter their background so that they can maintain their fame with a higher percentage of their graduates going on to key high schools and then prestigious universities.

Only when access to education resources is equal for all will it be possible for the smartest talents to come out through fair competition.

(China Daily 02/20/2014 page8)