Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 28 (September 07, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c September 07, 1999
Project Hope and the Hope School system in China : a re-evaluation / Samuel C. Wang.
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Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
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t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
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1 of 18 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 28September 7, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Project Hope and the Hope School System in China: A Re-evaluation Samuel C. Wang University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign AbstractI investigate the creation, development, contributi ons and limits of Project Hope, a huge government-endorsed education project seeking non-governmental contributions to overcome educatio nal inadequacy in poverty-stricken rural communities in transitional China. By reexamining the composition of sponsored students, the locations of Hope Primary Schools and non-educational orientatio ns for building and expanding schools, I argue that Project Hope and it s Hope School system have not contributed to educational access, equalit y, equity, efficiency and quality as it should have. Poverty-reduction-or iented curriculum requirements in Hope Primary Schools are theoretica lly misleading and realistically problematic.Introduction According to what is published on the o fficial homepage of the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), the founder of Proje ct Hope, "[Project Hope's] mission is to raise much-needed funds for the impro vement of educational conditions in China's poor areas and promote youth development in China. Its goal is to safeguard the educational rights of children in poor areas. In li ne with government policy of raising


2 of 18educational funds from a variety of sources, Projec t Hope mobilizes Chinese and foreign materials and financial resources to help bring dro pouts back to school, to improve educational facilities and to promote primary educa tion in China's povertystricken areas" (CYDF 1996a). Seeking non-governmental financial and physical support in both China and overseas for the improvement of primary education i n economically underdeveloped regions in China, Project Hope tries to help enroll in school those school age children who can not go to school or drop out of school beca use of poverty. It tries to improve the educational conditions, the classroom and school fa cilities in particular in underdeveloped rural areas. Furthermore, Project Ho pe tries to contribute to poverty reduction in local areas by contributing agricultur al and technical knowledge and skills to the curricula and instruction of its Hope Primar y Schools and encouraging the schools' participation in business operations (Yue, 1991; Hu ang, C. 1994; Tou, Cheng and Huang 1995). Project Hope has sponsored the schoolin g of tens of thousands of children in poor areas. To date, it has sponsored the construct ion and renovation of over 5,000 primary schools in poor areas (Guangmin Daily 1997; CYDF 1998). As a non-governmental charitable project, it has special political and educational legitimacy, power, and influence in China. The phrase "Project Hope" has become a household word among the Chinese people. This article traces the origins and dev elopment of Project Hope and the Hope Primary School system, which are marked by high pol iticization and bureaucratization, and investigates their contribution to the developm ent of rural basic education. By examining the demographics of sponsored students, t he locations of Hope Primary Schools and noneducational orientations for build ing and expanding schools, I argue that Project Hope and the Hope School System have n ot contributed as they should have to educational access, equality, equity, efficiency and quality in poverty-stricken areas. I suggest that povertyalleviation-oriented curricul um and instruction requirements in Hope Primary Schools are theoretically misleading a nd realistically problematic. With the growth of political liberalization in the centr al government and sustained economic growth in China, the signs of competition for finan cing rural basic education have already appeared; rural basic education will experi ence a new stage of expansion. The theoretical basis of my analysis is the philosophy of basic education for literacy and socialization of children and the World Bank's guid elines for education: highest priority for investment in basic education for educational a ccess, equality, equity and efficiency in developing countries. The main methods applied h ere are historical analysis based on documentary records and macro-economic analysis bas ed on the criteria for educational access, equity and quality.Origins and Development On October 30, 1989, only months after the Tiananmen Tragedy, the CYDF, a sub-organization of Communist Youth League (CYL), d eclared that Project Hope was set up to help school age children in poverty-stric ken areas to enroll in school. The league, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is regarded as a supporting hand to CPC in conducting national youth activities according to its political guidelines. The league set up CYDF in March 1989 al legedly for the purpose of promoting activities related to youth development. Winning endorsement and support from state leaders and the central government and b ecoming nationally visible since its inception, Project Hope added the topic of poorly s upported rural basic education to the


3 of 18list of issues that government officials hoped woul d distract the public from focusing on the aftermath of the Tianamen Tragedy. However, it is very difficult to trace the exact political origins of Project Hope from available do cuments and verify the hypothesis that it was a politically motivated project undertaken a t this critical time. Soon after its founding in 1989, Projec t Hope sponsored 11 children who could not go to school because of poverty in north China' s Hebei Province. On May 15, 1990, the project sponsored the renovation of an old prim ary school in Jinzhai County, in east China's Anhui Province and renamed the school "Hope Primary School." Since then, the organized solicitation of donations and gifts for t he project started to acquire momentum. A great number of old schools were renova ted and new schools were built with the project's sponsorship. All these schools w ere uniformly named the Hope Primary School. Project Hope has received aggregate donated funds and gifts of 1.257 billion RMB (about 151.5 million US dollars) and ha s sponsored 1.8 million school age children from poor rural families to enroll in scho ols. The project has sponsored the construction and renovation of 5,256 primary school s (Guangmin Daily 1997). Thus, Project Hope has set up a special school system, th e Hope Primary School system. Interestingly, the Hope School system, just like the reemerged private school system in China, to a certain extent is not within the dominant state public school system in terms of school financing. Private education has reappeared since the middle 1980s (Deng 1997; Kwong, 1997; Mok, 1997), with school nu mbers and enrollments reaching 0.4 percent of the total number of schools and stud ent population in China in 1997 (Wang 1997). Private schools are under the supervis ion of the Superintendent Office; therefore, they are under the control of state educ ational authorities in terms of macro administration and political monitoring (Deng 1997) Organizationally and administratively, only the Hope Primary School syst em is to any great extent outside the hierarchy of the State Education Commission, rename d the Ministry of Education after 1998; and more often than not, it operates independ ently of the educational authorities. The Chinese educational system was cent ralized and politicized to great extent in terms of administration and financing until the mid dle 1980s, when a series of educational changes and reforms took place in line with the state economic reform and modernization strategies. The success of vanguard a gricultural and economic reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s provided physical re sources for new educational expansion (Riskin, 1993). In 1985, the CPC Central Committee enacted the "Decision of the CPC Central Committee on the Reform of China's Education Structure." In the following year, the National People's Congress turn ed it into the Compulsory Education Act, the first education law since 1949 when the ne w China was founded. The most important features of this fundamental reform are l egalization of 9-year compulsory universal education; the decentralization of educat ional administration; the diversification of the educational financing system ; and the vocationalization of secondary education (Lewin, Little, Xu and Zheng, 1 994; Zhu and Lan, 1996). For primary education, according to Tsang (1996), the m ost important change was that the central government would get rid of almost all its financing responsibilities in order to encourage lower level governments and communities t o tap their great potential to finance education. The local governments, plus the provincial government that provided a minor share of funds, became almost totally respo nsible for the financing of primary and secondary education. According to the data of t he State Education Commission, provincial and local governments accounted for 99.9 8 percent of budgeted expenditure in 1991 and 99.97 percent in 1992 for primary educa tion. The national-level investment in basic education remained inadequate after the re form, much below the average level of developing countries (Tsang, 1994, 1996).


4 of 18 The local resources for education in "p overty-stricken areas" (stateor province-categorized "poor counties") were notably inadequate. In 1995, there were 592 counties categorized as "poor" with 85 million of p eople, whose average annual income was less than 268 RMB (about 32 US dollars per capi ta). Of these poor counties, there were 195 "extremely poor" counties with 58 million people whose average annual income was less than 200 RMB (about 24 US dollars p er capita) (Huang, 1995). The average annual income per capita in these poor coun ties was far below the UN poverty indicators that regard PPP (purchasing power parity ) below $60 per month per capita as poverty and $30 as extreme poverty (Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 1994). In these poor counties, people lacked subsistence levels of food and clothing. Naturally, it was very expensive for poverty-stricken households and local governments to provide basic education to school age children in these counties. Also, the teaching force in these counties continued to be inadequate in both quantit y and quality. Even though there was free tuition in all public schools, school age chil dren could not go to school or they dropped out of school because their parents were no t able to pay general fees and because they were needed as farm or household helpe rs. In addition, the school buildings and facilities were in very poor condition. In some extremely poor mountainous counties, teachers taught students in unsafe and un desirable places such as dilapidated temples or caves, according to many reports (Cheng, 1992; Huang, 1994; Zhang and Ma, 1996). Striving to obtain enough food and clothing for local people to subsist, the political authorities and school communities in the se poor counties were not able to invest adequately in education. They were very eage r to accept any financial contributions from outside to help expand education The trends of educational decentralizat ion and finance diversification in reform and long standing poverty in the underdeveloped are as in particular, provided Project Hope the sociopolitical atmosphere to come into bei ng and grow quickly. The initiators of the project took on the gritty issue of the long -awaited rural education expansion by making the best use of the opportunities for change and reform to promote basic education investment in poor areas. When local gove rnments were not able to take care of the basic education in all poor counties, Projec t Hope's participation in and contribution to primary education expansion grew si gnificantly.Empowerment by the Central Authorities Almost all the leading officials at sta te and provincial levels gave Project Hope unusually enthusiastic endorsement and support. The reasons behind this were multiple. They could be due to the real sympathy the leading politicians felt for poor children and their sincere willingness to support basic educatio n expansion in rural areas. They could be due to the close personal connections between th e CYDF organizers and the leading politicians, or due to the political needs for the authorities to avert public attention from the tight governmental budget for basic education a fter reform, or possibly to divert attention from the newly strangled student movement s. Leading officials in China have a long tradition of writing calligraphy to express th eir reflection, admiration and other personal attitudes. Although he vowed to stop writi ng anything for others to show his personal endorsement in the 1990s, the late leader Deng Xiaoping wrote the title of Project Hope for CYDF to show his endorsement of th e program on September 5, 1990. He then donated 5,000 RMB (about 600 US dollars) on two occasions in the name of "an old CPC member." He encouraged his family membe rs to make donations. The late President Li Xiannian wrote the title for the first Hope Primary School that was built in Anhui Province. The Party Secretary General and Pre sident Jiang Zeming and then


5 of 18Premier Li Peng followed suit. Almost all the impor tant politicians and celebrities emulated Deng by showing support and making persona l donations to the project in one way and another (Huang, 1994; Legal Daily, 1997). C onsequently, all governmental departments at different levels related to rural ed ucation gave the green light to the implementation and development of a variety of prog rams of this nongovernmental project. More often than not, the programs of Proje ct Hope were even given the highest priority on government agenda in some poor counties and prefectures.Domestic and Overseas Solicitation With endorsement and support from state and provincial leaders, the mass media joined the publicity campaign for the project. The mass media broadcast a great number of touching stories about how poor kids longed for schooling and about how poor citizens as well as high profile officials and cele brities helped dropouts go to school. Books, television features and films related to the project were produced, publicized and won the popular acceptance of the public. In April 1992, one program named "A Million of Love Hearts" for children in poor areas was laun ched to seek donations from urban areas across the country. In January 1994, another program named "Project Hope: One Home for One Dropout" covered the whole country. Th e purpose of this program was to encourage one well-off family in both rural and urb an areas across the country to help sponsor the schooling of one poor child. In May 199 7, a program entitled "Project Hope: The Last Large-scale Domestic Donation Solicitation was waged nationwide. Through these programs and many others, Project Hope was we ll known in urban areas as well as in rural areas. It was estimated that every governm ent employee made donations to the project at least once. According to a random survey done by the State Science and Technology Evaluation Center, 98 percent of the res pondents in Beijing knew the project. 80.8 percent knew the project through tele vision, newspapers and other media. Eighty-two percent of the respondents made donation s to people in poor areas or areas hit by natural disasters; 73.1% made donations to P roject Hope (Beijing Youth Daily, 1997). In recent years, corporations, and specifica lly foreign enterprises like the multinationals Motorola, Coca-Cola and Phillips in particular, were attracted by the publicity for Project Hope. Corporate donations and gifts accounted for the major portion of the funds in recent years. Well-organized publicity work also targ eted potential donors overseas, especially entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. A gre at number of individuals from Japan, the US and other countries made donations an d sponsored poor students. In 1996, Project Hope created its homepage on the Internet a nd made its programs more accessible to international communities. The CYDF h eld an international conference entitled "Project Hope and Fund Raising in China." In addition, three students who were sponsored by the project were selected to participa te in the passing of the Olympic Torch in the US that year. During 1980-1988, the total number of s chool age children who are not in school in China was estimated to have reached 37 million d ue to various socioeconomic reasons. In the early 1990s, the number decreased d ue to the government's growing will and more serious work in implementing the 9-year co mpulsory education policy. But it was still estimated that over one million students dropped out each year. Most of the dropouts were in the povertystricken areas (Yue, 1991). Project Hope's outstanding efforts and activities against the bleak rural education background have been warmly accepted by people in a ll walks of life in the country. It has sponsored the return to school of nearly 2 mill ion dropouts and constructed over


6 of 185,000 primary schools. Currently, its organizers se ek to raise the aggregated number of sponsored students to 3 million, and the number of constructed and renovated schools to 6000 by the year 2000. In addition, and more ambiti ously, Project Hope has attempted to train primary school teachers and tried to use the Hope Primary Schools to directly reduce poverty in families and communities. It is w idely believed that Project Hope has made a great contribution to the development of rur al basic education in poor areas. It is even regarded as the only hope for developing basic education and reducing poverty by some policy-makers as well as by the public in some poverty-stricken areas.Politicization and Bureaucratization Not only did the state and provincial l eaders support the project directly and make personal donations, but they also made use of the project for various political purposes. The donations and gifts from high officia ls were always in the headlines of national and local media, which publicized them car ing about poor children and their schooling. In addition, the central political autho rities used the project as an important means of implementing topdown "ideological educat ion." Through supporting this campaign, it was expected that the CPC members, gov ernment officials and staff as well as the ordinary citizens would be taught to continu e the popular traditions of the party and avoid corruption and other social ills exacerba ted by the introduction of a free market economy. According to the People's Daily (19 95) and Guangmin Daily (1997)-mouthpieces of the central party authorities and th e central government--Project Hope has become one of the most effective and most influ ential "ideological education" programs in recent years. On March 10, 1994, former Premier Li Pe ng made his "Government Work Report" to the National People's Congress. He speci fically emphasized Project Hope by urging people to "mobilize the social forces to con tinue the implementation of Project Hope." For three consecutive years since 1994, the "White Paper of China Human Rights Development" detailed the yearly statistics of the project's achievements in school enrollment and school building as important indicators of human rights improvement in China (Xinhua News Agency, 1997). Behind the fanfare of this highly polit icized educational scene were the bare facts of rural basic education. First, though there have been significant increases in financial and physical resources invested in education since the 1980s, national investment in education remains relatively low compared to other countries. In 1992, the per-student budgeted expenditures for primary education in Chin a, as a ratio of per capita GNP, was only 6.8 percent, substantially lower than the aver age of 10-11 percent for countries in Asia (Tsang, 1996). By contrast, public spending pe r student in the higher education sector as a percentage of GNP per capital was 193 p ercent in 1990 and 175 percent in 1994, much higher than the 1990 average of 98 perce nt in East Asian countries (World Bank, 1997). Second, "minban" teachers (literally people-managed" teachers, or community-supported teachers), most of whom teach i n poor school communities in rural areas, have been decreasing by tens of thousa nds each year due to the governmental policies aimed at eliminating them and due to the d ifferential pay they receive. The shortage of rural teachers has become more serious. In 1998, minban teachers decreased to about 2.3 million, accounting about 40 percent o f the total teacher population in rural areas. They do not enjoy "equal pay for equal work, the golden rule that China has always pledged to obey both in Mao's egalitarian er a before reform or in free market era since the late 1970s. Most of these teachers are ac tually living under the poverty line; some even join the ranks of the extremely poor beca use the poor and extremely poor


7 of 18communities are not able to pay their salaries and benefits for months or even years (Paine, 1991; Cheng, 1992; Zhang, 1994; Wang, 1997) Third, the education surcharges and tax es legalized by central and local governments, which aim at development of basic educ ation and at compensating minban teachers' salaries in particular, are difficult to collect, or are misused by being invested in township enterprises when they are collected. Both minban and public basic teachers, in particular minban teachers, working in poor communi ties more often than not are paid IOUs for their work, and the school facilities rema in in poor conditions or worsen (Cheng, 1992; Wang, 1996; Zhang and Ma, 1996). All of these undesirable situations related to rural schools and teachers could have be en much improved if the state and provincial authorities had shown equally their enth usiasm and endorsement for Project Hope for the basic education expansion in poor coun ties. Bureaucratization of the project and th e Hope Primary School system is closely linked to politicization of the project. In additio n to its own leaders and operational departments, CYDF has invited a number of politicia ns, officials and celebrities to be honorary leaders. CYDF's honorary president is the former top legislator Wan Li, the former Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Na tional People's Congress. Its president Li Keqiang is a member of the Standing Co mmittee of National People's Congress. A number of retired political elites such as generals and the former leading members of the secretariat of the State Council and even some current officials of the Ministry of Education and the representatives of th e upper-house-like People's Political Consultative Conference were invited to hold the ti tles of supervisors for the implementation of Project Hope programs. It was arr anged that they would occasionally visit prefectures and counties to supervise and exa mine the implementation Project Hope programs and report to the public and external deci sion-making bodies on behalf of the CYDF and Project Hope. Just like a centralized governmental or ganization, CYDF and Project Hope have developed their top-down national networks from Bei jing-based headquarters down to county-level branches in almost all provinces and a utonomous regions. These parallel the hierarchy of the public educational system unde r the Ministry of Education. Seemingly, they are non-governmental, non-profit so cial welfare promotion organizations. As a matter of fact, they have been shaped into another pseudo governmental organization with its personnel actual ly on the governments' payroll. In most extremely poor counties, the local economy is simply subsistence level agriculture; the local budget sometimes can not cover the payrol ls of the over-staffed governmental departments. Furthermore, it is difficult and timeconsuming for the external financial aid for education to reach these remote poor counti es. The CYDF and Project Hope branches in these counties most often have nearly n othing to contribute and merely add to the burden of local fragile financial, administr ative and educational systems. In some counties, when a limited amount of sponsorship for a program is available, various kinds of corruption (such as misuse of funds, cheating, a nd falsification of records) beleaguer the program. Becoming fully aware of these organiza tional and management problems, the headquarters attempted to adjust and downsize t heir organizations and improve management and efficiency by eliminating those inef fective and problematic prefectureor county-level branches. Such a goal, as the leade rs of CYDF admit, is difficult to achieve (CYDF 1996).For Equality, Equity, Efficiency and Quality? A great deal of attention has been focu sed on the issues of equality, equity,


8 of 18efficiency and quality in education investment by e ducational researchers, policy decision makers in governments and the internationa l institutions represented by the World Bank (Psacharopoulos and Patrinos, 1994; Worl d Bank, 1995). Originally, the goal of Project Hope was to increase educational eq uality, equity and quality by sponsoring the education of school age children of poor families and by improving school facilities. The school age children who can not go to school and those who drop out of school because of poverty reach one million across the country per year as mentioned above, and such children account for from 20 percent to over 50 percent of school age children in different poor counties (Tsa ng, 1996). Therefore, the students that Project Hope can help account for only a very small percentage of the total population of these children. The question arises: Among them who should receive the limited sponsorship? The obvious answer should be those who are from the poorest families based on basic economic principles, so that sponsor ship can be used with the greatest marginal utility and effect. In fact, however, the financial aid more often than not goes to students related to the power groups such as admini strative authorities, government employees, the school principal and teachers as wel l as the students from relatively rich families.Where should Hope Primary Schools be located; who s hould be enrolled? There are two kinds of standard that CY DF set for Hope Primary School construction. If the donated funds reach 200,000 RM B (about 24,100 US dollars), a new school should be constructed with the funds. If 100 ,000 RMB (or 12,200 US dollars) are available, an old dilapidated school should be reno vated with the funds. According to the requirements of CYDF, the location for a new sc hool should be in the township center. In reality, a great number of newly built H ope Primary Schools are built in county centers, cities and towns. It is mandatory t hat the location for renovated schools be at least on a village center school if a locatio n is not available where, for instance, a group of households are clustered and share a small simple school. Most renovated and reconstructed Hope Primary Schools, however, are fo rmer township center schools. Obviously, the county centers, the township centers and even the village centers, are relatively economically developed and have higher a verage household income than surrounding areas in the county. This is especially the case in extremely poor and remote mountainous counties. Generally, in these central a reas, there are comparatively fewer school age children who can not go to school or dro p out because of poverty. Thus, the building of new schools and school renovation contr ibute less to educational access, equity and equality for poorer children in the coun ty than they should. My visit in 1996 to a beautiful Hope Pr imary School located in a town center in Anhui Province revealed substantial inequality and inequity in the student enrollment of the Hope Primary School. The school I visited was t he only Hope Primary School under the jurisdiction of a township level, the lowest le vel government in a county categorized as being of "extreme poverty." From random sampling and interviewing thirty K-1 and K-2 students, and their parents and interviewing th e principal and teachers, I found that all students' families had adequate food and clothe s. This meant that the families were not "poor" according to local governmental poverty criteria--as discussed above--despite the fact that in this mountainous county the averag e annual income per capita is less than 200 RMB (about 24 US dollars). All interviewed fami lies reported that they could regularly give their children pocket money during t he academic semester. They all responded that they were able to support the genera l fees if their children were otherwise sent to an ordinary public school in the town, whic h was tuition free but charged general


9 of 18fees. Second, 51 percent of the total enrollment li ved in the prosperous township center with booming business. Forty-one percent lived in t he three neighboring villages that were about half an hour to one hour for students to walk to school; a few students in senior grades from rich families rode bikes to scho ol. This group of students all had family members working in the town, most in townshi p factories. Only 8 percent of students came from the outer six villages, which we re home to 59 percent of the population under the township jurisdiction. Almost all this 8 percent of students had one family member working in the township either as a f actory worker or self-employed businessman, so that the students had places for bo arding and lodging. The principal and 5 teachers interviewed stated that it was impossibl e for the school to enroll children whose family members were peasants in the outer poo rer villages in deep mountains, which were anywhere from a one-hour to a five-hour walk from the township center. They admitted that it was financially impossible fo r the school to support students' lunches, not to mention board, lodging or transport ation to some villages. The typical rhetoric concerning the Hop e Primary School's location in the highroad-accessible town or county centers is that more of the general public will see the exemplary buildings and teaching activities of the school. More importantly, the higher-level authorities who sometimes make investi gations of grassroots units can easily witness the physical outcome of Project Hope Thus, hopefully, they will provide greater attention and support to basic education in the county. If schools were built in remote mountainous villages where the cars and buss es can not reach, the authorities would not see the evidence of educational developme nt in the area. One concludes that in locating a school site, building and renovating a school, the local policy makers orient to the response of higher level authorities and rel atively rich students and their families rather than to the educational needs and expectatio ns of economically disadvantaged children and their families who live in geographica lly disadvantaged places (Tou et al., 1995).After a school site is located, on what scale shoul d a Hope Primary School be built or renovated? Though the distribution of the donated funds for school building or renovation is fixed to standard amounts, the local governments ca n supplement extra funds when available if they think necessary. Due to the huge regional differences and economic variation across the country, it is impossible for CYDF to strictly apply uniform standards. The local politics use the opportunity o f school building and expansion to exercise their powers and seek local funds to inves t in education based on local economic conditions. Nevertheless, some, if not mos t, local authorities unrealistically aim at building the best, the biggest and the most beautiful school building in the region. In many cases because of careless planning and mism anagement, the building of the main school infrastructure expends all the funds be fore a school can be completed. Then, no more money is available for purchasing acc essory parts and items to complete the school. For instance, the government of the rur al Xinguo County in east China's Jiangxi Province made the ambitious decision to bui ld the best primary school building in the Ganzhou Prefecture. The county government ev en sent professionals to the city where the prefecture headquarters was located to in vestigate what the most modern and beautiful primary school building should be like be fore they started construction. The county used 200,000 RMB (about $24,100 US) external ly donated funds and gifts, plus over 100,000 RMB locally collected funds to build a Hope Primary School. After the main building was finished, the builders found no m oney was left for completing


10 of 18washrooms, laboratories or to order blackboards, de sks and chairs, not to mention equipment and books for the school laboratories and library. It was impossible to collect more non-governmental funds in this poor county. Th e county and lower level governmental branches were unable to provide extra financial assistance. This Hope Primary School was left as nothing but an unfinishe d modern building (Tou et al., 1995). It then took many years for the county to complete the school and make it useable. Unfortunately, a great number of Hope Primary Schoo l buildings were built or half built in the same way. Because of the complicated dual leaders hip in administration and management, most Hope Primary Schools can not fully improve the ir potential for internal and external efficiency. As required by the CYDF, a Hop e Primary School should upon completion be immediately put under the leadership and administration of the local Educational Bureau or Office at the county or town level, which is the grassroots level in the hierarchy of the Ministry of Education. However the school is built with the funds obtained by and under instruction of the local CYDF and Project Hope Office. And they are affiliated with the local branch of the CYL, wh ich also functions as a governmental branch. Thus, the Hope Primary School is subject to two administrators. Since the League branch solicits and accepts the donations an d gifts, and is responsible for building the school, it always has greater decision -making power in administration and management. The local educational authorities are o ften put aside in the decision making process about Hope Schools. But local educational a uthorities will not easily retire from the competition for power and influence, particular ly on the high-profile Hope Primary School. In addition, who should be the principa l, who should be teachers in the new school, what kind of poor children should be enroll ed, and what special management policies should be practiced in the school? All the se equality, equity and efficiency-related questions receive conflicting an swers from the two different administrative authorities with different motivatio ns and orientations. Hence, constant conflict and tensions ensue between the two power s ystems. When the two administrators can not rea ch a compromise, as is usually the case, the Hope Primary School becomes the victim of their conflicts, competition and antagonism. Teaching quality and student achievemen t are thus negatively affected.Curriculum and Instruction: For Poverty Reduction? China has long worked under a national uniform core curriculum in primary education. Alternations of core curricula are under the absolute control of the Ministry of Education. Naturally, Hope Primary Schools are expe cted to follow the standard practice of all public primary schools about what core curri cula should be taught. The curricula and instruction do not include vocational and techn ical education at the level of primary schools, but only at the level of junior and senior secondary schools and beyond. This is in line with World Bank educational policy recommen dations: "Basic education encompasses general skills such as language, scienc e and mathematics, and communication skills that provide the foundation fo r further education and training. It also includes the development of attitudes necessar y for the work place. Academic and vocational skills are imparted at higher levels, on -the-job training and work-related continuing education update those skills." (World B ank, 1995). In early 1994, Vice Premier Li Nanqing, who took charge of national education policy, suggested that the Hope Primary School shou ld be different from other general public primary schools in curriculum and instructio n. The Hope Primary Schools should


11 of 18educate elementary graduates in the agricultural an d technical knowledge needed and develop the skills to help families and communities in the drive to alleviate poverty. Obviously, such educational goals for children ages 7 to 13 years in primary schools were unrealistic given the inadequacy of the school s and the communities. What is more, these goals are inconsistent with the commonly held philosophy of universal primary education (Wang, 1995). In the education reform of 1985, the educational authorities proposed vocationalization at secondary school leve l and beyond. Almost half of the secondary schools in the country have been graduall y turned into vocational and technical secondary schools since then (Lewin et al ., 1994). This policy orientation and implementation were regarded as realistic, viable a nd effective because they were based on the economic development strategies of China, on the advice of educational professionals, and on the related experiences of ot her countries. The vice-premier's radical educational policy proposal for Hope Primar y Schools did not win warm support from educators, especially professors and researche rs under then State Education Commission. But the CYL and CYDF followed this prop osal and demanded that the Hope Primary Schools should define their own charac ter by educating students with agricultural, scientific and technological skills a s well as cultural knowledge. Since then, it has been required that the Hope Primary School s hould take the path of "combining agricultural and technical knowledge and skills wit h cultural contents" by adding farming and technical education to the core curricu lum. In addition, more radical policy guidelines were adopted to encourage Hope Primary S chools to develop school economies, such as the school-affiliated business o perations, and furthermore, to develop schools as technical extension stations in poor rural areas. Later, CYDF explicitly required Hope Primary Schools to become agricultural and technical extension stations or centers in local communities (CYDF 1996 b). According to case studies by Peking Uni versity graduates, four obstacles lay directly in the way of this "new path" (Tou et al., 1995). First, there were no places such as experimental fi elds or laboratories to implement agricultural and technical education. Whe n not even desks and chairs were available or adequate for students, it was dif ficult or nearly impossible for the school to obtain extra facilities such as land plots or laboratory equipment to teach plant cultivation techniques or electrical sk ills, for example. Second, teachers were notably inadequate in both qu antity and quality in poor counties. When the supply of teachers in vocational and technical schools at secondary level were inadequate, it was to be expec ted that they would also be inadequate for the agricultural and technical curri cula of the Hope Primary Schools. This was partly because vocational and tec hnical teacher qualifications were not yet required in Hope Primary Schools, and most probably would not be considered by planners of teacher education. The Ho pe Primary Schools occasionally had to invite experienced farmers and technicians or secondary vocational school teachers to classrooms, as mere g estures toward implementing vocational and technical curricula and instruction. Third, the elementary students were obviously too y oung and cognitively unprepared to accept vocational and technical train ing; and the acquired knowledge and skills would most probably become obs olete years later when they graduated and entered the labor force. Fourth, parents opposed the non-cultural content of curricula and instruction. If children had to spend a significant amount of time in agricultural work in school, peasants would prefer that they be household helpin g hands or learn farming skills


12 of 18on the farm instead. And even some local administra tive and educational leaders believed that it was not realistic for primary scho ol students to be directly involved in programs of poverty alleviation and eco nomic development for families and communities. According to Chinese educational profes sionals, some light agricultural work is necessary. Children should be educated to have soli d ethics and a good attitude toward productive and vocational work through such experie nces. But the Hope Primary School has little alternative to being a general primary s chool rather than a vocationally or technically oriented school carrying heavy politica l and economic expectations (Sha, Zhou, Fang and Xu, 1995). As the World Bank (1995) pointed out: "Education alone will not reduce poverty; complementary macroeconomi c policies and physical investments are also needed." When actual investmen ts in the poverty stricken counties were rare and problematic, the great hopes and expe ctations placed on the children of Hope Primary Schools to contribute to the reduction of poverty and to economic development are only daydreams, even if the student s are otherwise adequately equipped with vocational and technical knowledge and skills.Conclusion Encouraged by its political endorsement s, its great achievements and popularity, Project Hope has become more and more ambitious in its educational endeavors. The leaders of CYDF and Project Hope expect the Hope Pr imary School to be not only the hope for children of poor families, but also the ho pe for parents and local communities to rid themselves of poverty and become well off. U nless poor children are lucky enough to live in the more advantaged villages or unless t hey are related to locally powerful people, the children's chances of truly escaping po verty through schooling are small. The expectations placed on the Hope Primary School have become a burden for the young children and teachers; these expectations are unrea listic and problematic. The leaders of Project Hope now plan to set up at least one Hope Primary School in each of the over 500 poor counties in China. Pre sently, because the donations and gifts are not adequate, Hope Primary Schools curren tly exist in only about 100 poor counties. But, the leaders now have new plans in ad dition to continuing to sponsor children and building schools in every poor county. In addition to transforming Hope Primary Schools into agricultural and technical sta tions and training students with poverty-reduction skills as mentioned above, the ne w goals and plans include the following: First, to seek donations and gifts to set up the Ho pe Library in every Hope Primary School. If one donates 3,000 RMB (approximately US$ 362), 500 books for children will be purchased and a small library in a Hope Primary School will be set up. Second, to build up Training Bases for Hope Primary School Teachers. The first National Training Center for Hope Primary School Te achers, at least the physical building, has been completed in Zhejiang Province. Third, to establish the Project Hope Award for Outs tanding Teachers. Dozens of dedicated and experienced teachers from extremely p oor school communities have been selected for the awards. They were invited to Beijing to accept the honors. Fourth, to organize the selection of a number of ou tstanding students from Hope Primary Schools as Hope Stars (CYDF 1997a, 1997b).


13 of 18 At present, more and more people and in stitutions unrelated to the system of the CYL and CYDF use, consciously or unconsciously, the title of "Project Hope" for financing basic education, or for non-educational o r profit making purposes. They thus challenge the political and educational authority o f CYDF and Project Hope for rural basic education expansion. To safeguard its best an d exclusive interests, CYDF registered its service trademark of Project Hope wi th the China Trademark Bureau in April 1997. This places in legal jeopardy any indiv idual or any institution using the title "Project Hope" in China without approval from CYDF and Project Hope. It is estimated that over 400 Hope Primary Schools in China have re cently been built with the funds from sources outside CYDF and Project Hope. Apparen tly, all these schools will have to either change names or join the Hope Primary School system under CYDF in the near future. In November 1997, the Sate Education Co mmission and the Ministry of Finance set up the "State Compulsory Education Scholarship For Children in Poor Areas" by earmarking 130 million RMB (about 15.7 million US d ollars) to support poor children in the state-categorized "poor" and "extremely poor counties. It is expected that every year over 600,000 students will receive the scholar ship (CYDF 1997). Though started much later and on a smaller scale compared with Pro ject Hope's programs, this was the biggest effort ever made by the State Education Com mission after educational reform in the middle 1980s to directly sponsor the schooling of children of poor families in poor areas. When CYDF and Project Hope play bigger roles and the Hope Primary School system attempts to exercise greater influence in ba sic education and community development in poor areas, the Ministry of Educatio n will become more active in rural basic education expansion. The ministry along with other powerful ministries will probably make greater financial contributions and w ork out more carefully-designed policy guidelines for all primary schools including Hope Primary Schools in rural areas. This will improve educational access and quality fo r school-age children of poor families. Along with the state's povertyalleviati on and economic development programs, it is expected that educational equity an d efficiency as well as the governmental goal of universalization of 9-year bas ic education will be gradually realized in the future.Note The author wishes to express deep appre ciation to friends and former colleagues, Prof. Zhou Quanhua of the Peking University, as wel l as to Senior Coprrespondent Han Lin with the monthly China Today for assistance in collecting published information in China. The author, however, is solely reponsible fo r any information, ideas, and views expressed here.ReferencesBeijing Youth Daily (1997), September 11, 1997.Cheng, K. M. (1992). The true situation of educatio n in mainland China. Taipei, Taiwan: Taiwan Commercial Press.CYDF (1996a) The English-language homepage of CYDF and Project Hope. Available at:


14 of 18CYDF (1996b) The Newsletter. May 15, 1996. CYDF (1997a) Questions and Answers Regarding Projec t Hope Beijing: CYDF. CYDF (1997b) Newsletter. November 20, 1997. CYDF (1998) Project Hope--The Certificate of Young Volunteer Beijing: CYDF. Guangmin Daily (1997) Editorial, October 3, 1997.Huang. C. (1994) Project Hope in China. Beijing: Ch ina Radio and TV Publishing House.Huang, S. (1995) The Dilemma and Solutions of Rural Basic Education in Poor Areas. In Tou, et al. (eds. 1995): Zhongguo Xiwang Xiaoxue Hope Primary Schools in China: Investigations and Reflections on Project Hope 59-82. Kwong, J. (1997) The reemergence of private schools in socialist China. Comparative Education Review, 8 244-259. Legal Daily (1997). To meet the 21st century with "Hope." June 18, 1997. Lewin, M. K., et al. (1994) Educational innovation in China: Tracing the impact of the 1985 reforms Essex, England: Longman Group Limited. People's Daily (1995). Special Column "Love Heart f or Project Hope." Also in CYDF Newsletter, May 15, 1996. Mok, K. (1997) Private challenges to public dominan ce: the resurgence of private education in the Pearl River Delta. Comparative Edu cation, 33 (1), 43-60. Paine, L. (1991) Reforming Teachers. In Irving Epst ein (Ed.), Chinese Education: Problems, Policies and Prospects New York: Garland Publishing Inc. Psacharopoulos (1985) Education for Development. Lo ndon: Oxford University Press. Psacharopoulos and Patrinos (1994) Indigenous Peopl e and Poverty in Latin America: An Empirical Analysis. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Riskin, C. (1993 ) China's political economy: The q uest for development since 1949 London: Oxford University Press. pp290-302.Shan, W., et al. (1995) The Management of Hope Prim ary Schools In Tou Meng, et al. (Eds.): Hope Primary Schools in China: Investigatio ns and Reflections on Project Hope. pp. 211-220.Tou, M., Cheng, J. and Huang, H. (Eds., 1995) Hope Primary Schools in China: Investigations and Reflections on Project Hope Beijing: China Science and Technology Press.Tsang, M. C. (1996) Financial Reform of Basic Educa tion in China. Economics of Education Review 15. pp423-444


15 of 18Wang, C. (1997) "Minban" Education: The Elimination of People-managed Teachers in Reforming China. The Midwest Comparative and Intern ational Education Society Conference 1997 at the University of Illinois at Ur bana-Champaign. Wang, D. (1997) Sili xuexiao: wenti yu chulu [Priva te Schools: Problems and Solutions]. People's Education March 1997. Wang, D. (1995) On Hope Primary School. In Tu Meng, et al. (Eds., 1995). Hope Primary Schools in China: Investigations and Reflec tions on Project Hope Wang, S. (1995) The Role Expectation of Hope Primar y School. In Tu Meng, et al. (Eds., 1995). Hope Primary Schools in China: Invest igations and Reflections on Project Hope 16-21. Wang, Z. (1996) The Analysis of Communist China's u niversalization of 9-year Compulsory Education. Studies of Communist Problems 8. 34-35. World Bank (1995) Priorities and Strategies for Edu cation. Washington D. C.: World Bank.World Bank (1997) China Higher Education Reform. Wa shington D. C.: World Bank. Xiahua News Agency (1997). March 31, 1997. Yue, X. (1991) China Project Hope. Beijing: Science Literature Press. 20-22. Zhang, H. and Ma, S. (1996) Guanyu longcun pinkun d iqu kiaoshi wenti de sikao [Reflections on the Teachers in Rural Poor Regions] People's Education, 1 10-12. Zhang, W. (1997) Yuhe zuodao minban jiaoshi yu gong ban jisoshi tonggong tongchou [Minban Teachers vs. Gongban (public) teachers: How to achieve equal pay for equal work?]. People's Education, 3, 15-16. Zhu, Y. and Lan, J. (1996) educational reform in Ch ina since 1978. In Hu, Hong and Starvou (Eds.) In Search of a Chinese Road Towards Modernization: Economic and Educational Issues in China's Reform Process. Wales: The Edwin Mellen Press.About the AuthorSamuel C. WangDepartment of Educational PolicyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign360 EPS, 1310 South Sixth StreetChampaign, IL 61801 Email: Samuel C. Wang is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Education and Social Sciences and a research assistant at the University of Illin ois at Urbana-Champaign. With bachelors and masters degrees obtained in China, he served in institutions of English


16 of 18 education, publishing and science education before he sought doctoral study in U.S. He was an Editorial Assistant with the journal Educational Theory for 19971998. His main research interests include education in Asia a nd education and human development.Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina—Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas MauhsPugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo


17 of 18 Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education Robert T. Stout Arizona State University David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativaDIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do SulUFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de


18 of 18 Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los


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