Premier Li Keqiang pledged in his report presented to the NPC that the government would work to provide fairer and more equitable basic education from preschool to senior high school. This commitment, as a response to more demanding social and economic development needs, marked a fresh starting point for China’s education in the new era.
First, Premier Li announced that “the government will support all kindergartens that meet safety standards, charge reasonable fees, and have the trust of parents, regardless of their nature of ownership.” Encouraging the private sector to participate in providing preschool education evidences the government’s continued effort to make early education more affordable and readily available.
Second, the Premier promised that “the government will promote the integrated development of urban and rural compulsory education, move faster to improve teaching conditions in rural schools, strengthen the ranks of teachers working in the countryside, quickly address the problem of oversized classes in urban schools, and ensure access to education for children living with their migrant worker parents in cities.” The class size problem, which emerged as a result of an influx of rural migrants to cities amid China’s rapid urbanization, refers specifically to “oversized classes” with more than 56 students, and “supersized” classes with more than 66 students. The government has been working to cut class sizes in a bid to ensure optimal teacher supervision and attention to every student. As of the end of 2018, the number of oversized and supersized classes was lowered by 18.9% and 48.7% respectively, marking the steepest drop in a decade. At this rate and with stronger government support, the problem is expected to be fully addressed by 2020.
Finally, the Premier pledged to continue efforts to make senior secondary education universal. Noting a huge gap in western provinces in terms of access to high schools, enrolment rates at vocational schools, and availability of educational resources, he announced that the government would provide more funding to these regions, to increase the gross high school enrolment ratio to 90% and make sure half of the students would be able to attend vocational schools by 2020.