Data map: Kindergarten children are taking lessons in the classroom. China News Service reporter Zhang Yuanshe

"Pre-primary Education Law Draft" "pain points" to be solved

  China News Weekly Reporter/Xu Dawei

  Over the years, the uneven and insufficient development of pre-school education has made the contradiction between "difficult to enter the park" and "expensive to enter the park" prominent. The law of pre-school education has high hopes, through legislation to make clear provisions on the deep-level problems of pre-school education and the key system and mechanism issues.

  The "Preschool Education Law Draft (Consultation Draft)" (hereinafter referred to as the Draft Consultation Draft) has recently been released and comments have been sought on a small scale. However, many industry professionals interviewed believe that in the current draft, the core issues such as the government’s main obligations, the design and implementation of Pratt & Whitney Park’s system, and the proportion of financial pre-school education funding are not clear enough, and many real “pain points” issues Not touched.

"Public welfare undertakings" that the government cannot "enclose"

  Many interviewed scholars believe that the legislation of pre-school education should clarify the responsibility of the government, and the definition of government responsibility depends on the positioning and characterization of pre-school education.

  In the draft for solicitation of opinions, it is clear that pre-school education is an important part of the national education system and an important social welfare undertaking. The state implements a three-year pre-school education system and incorporates pre-school education into the scope of basic public services.

  If pre-school education is regarded as a kind of social welfare provided by the government through public choice, then it should be organized through public financial support in the form of "public park". However, in terms of the financial resources of local governments, it is difficult to be able to “wrap up” all pre-school education.

  Taking Xi'an as an example, among the more than 1,500 kindergartens, private parks account for more than 60%, but the number of kindergartens still cannot meet social needs. In addition, private kindergartens have high fees and low profits, resulting in the quiet growth of some "unlicensed parks". According to media surveys, according to the total population of the region, there are 40 kindergartens in Weiqu Town, Chang'an District, Xi'an, but there are only 4 public kindergartens in the town. The government only implements the principle of no entry and exit for the establishment of the park. Therefore, many investors who have the conditions to establish a park are difficult to obtain the qualification to establish a park. There are a large number of unlicensed kindergartens that are operated and then applied for, which makes supervision difficult.

  In the draft for solicitation of opinions, no breakthrough was made in the two investment systems of public and private, and the proportion of financial pre-school education funding was not clear.

  In 2008, Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Education Sciences, made calculations when participating in the formulation of relevant pre-school education plans. Early childhood education funding should account for 9% of the total education funding. By the end of 2010, China’s preschool education investment only accounted for national education. The total investment of 1.3% is not only lower than the 10% ratio standard in developed countries, but also lags behind the 3.8% ratio standard in African countries.

  With the increase of comprehensive national strength, the total investment of national education funds in 2019 will be 50175 billion yuan, of which the state financial education funds will be 404.9 billion yuan, and the investment in pre-school education will account for about 8% of the total funds, accounting for about the proportion of fiscal education expenditures. 5%.

  Scholars suggest that the structure and nature of financial pre-primary education inputs need to be further optimized. Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, believes that to better protect the development of pre-school education, fiscal education expenditures account for 10% or more reasonable. Chu Zhaohui also held a similar opinion. He took Beijing as an example. In 2018, Beijing’s preschool education funds accounted for 10% of financial education funds. “It can still only maintain the normal operation of preschool education.”

  For a long time, the proportion of fiscal education expenditures for pre-school education in China has not been high, the proportion of fiscal sharing has been vague, and there are also differences between regions. Xiong Bingqi believes that the proportion of financial investment in pre-school education has nothing to do with the level of fiscal revenue. For regions with low total GDP, if the development of pre-school education cannot be guaranteed, it is necessary to increase the central financial co-ordination.

The design of Pratt & Whitney Park system needs to be broken

  According to Cai Hailong, an associate professor at the School of Education of Capital Normal University, pre-school education is not a purely public undertaking that the government bears all responsibilities. At this stage, it is difficult to clearly divide the responsibility for the development of pre-school education undertaken by the central and local governments. In contrast, compulsory education is a very public social undertaking, and the central and local governments have a clear division of responsibility and proportion of financial investment. In addition, due to the different affordability of local finances, it may not be appropriate to specifically determine the sharing ratio between the central and local governments.

  The reality is that children in public parks can often enjoy the government's per capita funding, while children in private parks are hard to enjoy. For example, the annual budget expenditure of Xi’an No. 1 Conservation Home is more than 30 million yuan. Such public parks with annual financial allocations of tens of millions or even tens of millions are not unique in the country. Several directors of private kindergartens in Qingdao, Shandong told China News Weekly that the annual expenditure of public parks in Qingdao is 8 million to 10 million yuan, which is two or three times that of private parks.

  In a proposal, Xie Yanchuan, a member of the Fujian Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, pointed out that if the annual financial allocation for a public park is used to support the inclusive private park, the degree can be increased by 6 to 15 times. However, in this draft, the gap between the public park and the private park in terms of school funding remains.

  At present, the mechanism of pure public parks and pure market-oriented private parks are both unrealistic. Pratt & Whitney Park is regarded as a “compromise” solution to the provision of pre-school education services. By giving certain subsidies or preferential policies to private parks, they can provide pre-school education services that meet the standards at a more economical cost. This is actually a public-private partnership model.

  The “Several Opinions on Deepening the Reform and Standardization of Preschool Education” released in November 2018 made it clear that by 2020, the coverage rate of inclusive kindergartens will reach 80%. Subsequently, 80% of the inclusive park's index tasks were clarified successively, but the subsidy standards made many private parks unacceptable.

  In this draft consultation draft, the input and protection of kindergartens, especially the funding of inclusive kindergartens, are stipulated as follows: "The people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government shall scientifically approve the inclusive kindergartens’ The cost of running a park, a reasonable determination of the proportion of family sharing, and the rest are included in the financial budget. The people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government formulate the standard of financial allocation for public kindergarten students or public expenditure, and the standard of financial subsidies for inclusive private kindergartens. Establish and improve the funding guarantee mechanism for inclusive kindergartens."

  However, in practice, many local private parks are required to limit price inclusion, and the subsidies received cannot be compared with public parks, nor can they offset the cost pressure. Subsidies are sometimes in arrears.

  Recently, Li Tian, ​​an operator of a private kindergarten in Qingdao, decided that two of his opponents are about to turn into a kindergarten in Puhui Park for "slam brakes" because the conditions promised by the government have not been fulfilled. Li Tian calculated an account for "China News Weekly": the monthly premium (childcare education fee) for each kindergarten child is 1980 yuan. After being converted into Pratt & Whitney Park, the monthly premium is reduced to 1080 yuan, but the government The monthly subsidy is only 300 yuan. In addition, the annual rent cost of kindergarten is about 1 million yuan, and fixed expenses such as labor remuneration reach more than 200,000 yuan per month. After the transfer to Pratt & Whitney Park, the cost of kindergarten is high and the operation is difficult.

  The draft solicitation opinion is still not clear enough on how to define inclusive gardens, how to ensure inclusiveness, how to achieve inclusiveness at the system level, the organization and management of inclusive kindergartens, etc. The system design and implementation of Pratt & Whitney Park are the key points for the draft to be broken through urgently.

Don't let investors be "donors"

  For local governments, if all private parks are repurchased to become public parks, the finances will face great pressure. The government hopes to entrust private parks by purchasing services to reduce the tuition fees of private parks to the fees charged by public parks. The difference will be compensated by the government. .

  However, Zhou Hong, director of a private kindergarten in Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, told China News Weekly that she rejected the government's invitation to hold a public park. In her view, the cost of organizing public parks is low, and the government only provides rent and park subsidies. Under cost pressure, it cannot operate at all.

  For local governments, the transfer of privately-owned parks to Pratt and Whitney Parks is a major problem in terms of funding security. According to local media reports, there are currently more than 11,000 inclusive kindergarten parks in Hetang District of Zhuzhou City. According to the requirements of relevant documents, more than 1,000 inclusive parks in Hetang District need to be added. Pratt & Whitney Park charges a maximum of 600 yuan per month. After a private park currently charging 1,200 yuan per month is converted into Pratt & Whitney Park, the government needs 6,000 yuan per child per year. For this item alone, the district finance needs to spend more than 6 million yuan every year.

  A lawyer specializing in preschool education law, who did not wish to be named, told China News Weekly that some local governments, in order to increase the proportion of Pratt & Whitney Parks, adopted the cessation of applying for private kindergartens, did not apply for private school licenses, did not pass the annual review, and forced to complete Such behaviors as Pratt & Whitney Garden lack a legal basis.

  The draft consultation draft stipulates that the "community supporting park" must be established as a public kindergarten or entrusted as an inclusive private kindergarten. It cannot be used for profit-making private kindergartens. Property rights issues.

  Liu Fang, director of a "community supporting park" in Qingdao, is worrying about property rights. Previously, she bought the property rights of a community supporting park from the developer. In November 2018, Liu Fang was notified of the need to establish a Pratt & Whitney Garden. Since then, the property rights of this kindergarten have not been completed.

  The aforementioned lawyer specializing in preschool education law told China News Weekly that property rights should be an important distinguishing mark as to whether it belongs to a community supporting park, and it is necessary to be clearly stipulated in future legislation on preschool education. This will not only ensure that the government is more targeted and efficient in managing and managing community supporting parks, but also conducive to the protection of property owners to use the right.

  The draft soliciting opinions imposes profit-seeking restrictions and capital restrictions on pre-school education, "Public kindergartens and non-profit private kindergartens may not be controlled by mergers and acquisitions, entrusted operations, franchise chains, agreement control, etc., and joint stock companies shall not be financed through the stock market Investing in profit-making kindergartens shall not purchase profit-making kindergarten assets by issuing shares or paying cash.

  However, in reality, most private park investors have appeals for returns. A number of kindergarten investors in Qingdao told China News Weekly that they wanted to set up a profit-making park. However, after the relevant channels were quickly closed, they had to choose to set up a Pratt & Whitney Park, otherwise they would not be eligible for a park.

  Shandong Haikun Education Development Research Center pointed out in its opinion on the draft pre-school education law, “Investors in private parks that have purchased or leased community-supported kindergartens are actually changed by a legal investor who has invested in the education industry and has achieved investment returns. Has become a donor to the education industry who cannot obtain a return on investment."

  Many kindergarten managers said that the draft pre-school education law has detailed provisions in some details, but the key issues related to the life and death of private parks have not been involved. As far as the current situation is concerned, this version of the pre-school education law still requires extensive input from all parties to reach consensus.

  (At the request of the interviewee, Li Tian, ​​Liu Fang, and Zhou Hong are pseudonyms)

  "China News Weekly" No. 24, 2020

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