Philanthropy making significant impact on education sector

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China’s charitable and philanthropic sector expanded rapidly after the 18th CPC National Congress, leaving the sector short of skilled workers possessing adequate professional qualifications and specialized capabilities. This situation was so serious that it eventually became a major factor impacting the sector’s development.

At the same time, the discipline of philanthropic studies at institutions of higher learning had made a certain amount of headway. The “2021 Report on Philanthropy Education at Chinese Universities” revealed that as of November 2021, there were a combined 35 colleges and universities in China offering specialized education in philanthropic studies, with 35 different curriculums and concentrations encompassing programs of study at polytechnic, undergraduate and graduate levels, pointing to the emergence of a multilayered development pattern.

Education was among the earliest key areas to garner attention in China when it came to public welfare initiatives, and when looking back at the new trail blazed during the development of philanthropic initiatives in the country’s education sector, every single achievement carries the memories of a generation and is reflected in the footsteps of its pioneers.

As early as the 1980s and 1990s, the introduction of charitable programs promoting education, such as “Project Hope” (which aimed to help poor rural children access education) and the “Spring Buds Program” (which aimed to support girls from low-income backgrounds continue their studies), for example, initiated a great upswing in the general public’s charitable giving.

While traditional programs have further expanded their footprint since the conclusion of the 18th CPC National Congress, various new players have continued to join the cause of promoting a role for charities in the education sector. Indeed, the sector has consistently been on the receiving end of considerable sums of money.

Statistics published in the China Philanthropy List reveal that since the 18th CPC National Congress, the education sector has continuously remained the primary recipient of charitable contributions made by individual philanthropists and philanthropic corporations.

In the 19th (2022) China Charity Ranking, for instance, 76 percent of philanthropists made charitable donations to the education sector, with education also being the category of choice for 11 of the 18 individual philanthropists who made a total annual contribution of more than 100 million yuan ($13.73 million). Meanwhile, roughly one in five corporations considered education to be the most important or even the only category selected when making donations, with a quarter of the more than 6 billion yuan in annual contributions made by corporations going to the education sector.

The enormous volume of funds that have poured into China’s education sector has further amplified the degree of recognition that such initiatives in the country’s education sector enjoy throughout broader society.

Thus, with the rendering of financial support alongside greater cooperation and integration with the education system, the shift towards establishing institutions of higher education as acts of charity has come to the fore as the newest trend, opening up a fresh channel for non-governmental actors in society to contribute to philanthropic undertakings in the education sector, in addition to providing even greater possibilities for the continued development of higher education in China.

In the years ahead, one can look forward to the helping hand of philanthropy and the fostering of larger numbers of highly trained workers, with more and more segments of society contributing to initiatives in the education sector and devoting themselves to China’s development.