The Distributive Effect of the Overall Planning Reform of Provincial-Level Educational Funding

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.11, 2015


The Distributive Effect of the Overall Planning Reform of Provincial-Level Educational Funding



Zhao Litao, Li Ling et al.


The reform of compulsory education financing launched in 2006 has built up a compulsory education school system in which “overall funding is planned by the provincial authorities and management is mainly a county-level responsibility.” There is a great disparity in the effect of the new system on the distribution of educational resources. Based on interviews and an analysis of school-level data for 2008-2013 from all primary schools in a province in Western China, we found that province-level overall planning is a composite reform, consisting of both inclusive projects with a broad coverage and preferential projects. The two vary in terms of their allocation principles, beneficiaries and distributive effects. Inclusive inputs are employed to guarantee basic recurrent costs whereas preferential inputs are used to guarantee non-recurrent expenses, especially the developmental needs of disadvantaged schools and the educational rights of students from deprived families. Changes in the relative intensity of investment in the two kinds of project influence the direction and extent of disparities between urban and rural areas and among different regions and schools in terms of educational appropriations per student; they help to reduce the extent of inequality in the average conditions of schooling for each student. Educational investment needs to take into account the compensatory needs of disadvantaged schools; provincial-level overall planning should make a distinction between inclusive and preferential investments in accordance with student flows and actual school circumstances so as to ensure the accurate targeting of preferential investment and improve the learning conditions and educational quality of disadvantaged schools.