China rolls out first education subsidy plan

Beijing, May 28 (IANS) A Chinese township has rolled out a first-of-its-kind programme in the country that would offer subsidies to over 9,500 students to cover their education cost from kindergarten to postgraduate doctoral studies.

The Shipai township in Guangdong province launched a pilot programme in September 2009 and later expanded the free education plan across the township. This programme will cover educational expenses of local residents up to 25 years, Global Times reported Thursday.

The township, covering an area of 56 sq km, has a population of 42,000.

According to China’s education policy since 1986, the government has guaranteed nine years of free compulsory education for students.

In Shipai, a senior high school student can apply for an annual subsidy of 3,000 yuan ($439), a junior college student can apply for 4,000 yuan ($585), a college student 6,000 yuan ($878), a master’s degree student 8,000 yuan ($1,170) and a doctoral candidate 10,000 yuan ($1,463), according to the policy.

Over 9,500 students are entitled to the subsidies and the government will spend about 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) on the programme.

The launch of the policy has won applause from the residents.

‘Though the subsidy may not mean much to some wealthy families, I’m sure it is a great help to those in poverty,’ 25-year-old Li was quoted as saying. ‘And it sends a positive signal that educators are concerned.’

Some applicants, however, complained they could not get access to the fund.

‘I submitted my application forms to the authority one month ago but haven’t got the subsidy,’ said Wang Huanqiang, 23, who graduated from a junior college last year, adding that authorities told him to wait for three more months.

The tuition fees for his two-year college term is 240,000 yuan ($35,121), he said.

‘Though the subsidy is only 8,000 yuan, I still appreciate it,’ he said.