Shenzhen eyes 12-year free education, ups work with learning institutions

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At present, China executes nine-year compulsory education, providing free and compulsory education for school-age children during the elementary and middle school stage.

Shenzhen has decided to take the lead on going beyond the current standards. On April 13, a member of the National People’s Congress announced that Shenzhen will progressively implement twelve-year free education by 2025 through exploring and extending on the current nine-year compulsory education policy.

There are many challenges in practice, but progressively carrying out a twelve-year education is doable for Shenzhen.

In the past two years, Shenzhen’s combined budget for preschool and high school education exceeded 10 billion RMB. More than 80 percent of city’s children have enrolled in public and inclusive kindergartens. Admissions have also expanded for high schools. It is predicted that by 2025, spots at Shenzhen public high schools will nearly double and reach 216,500.

In terms of preschool education, Shenzhen has established cost sharing mechanisms. Since 2012, each registered child between three and six years old receives 1,500 RMB per year for health and growth support. Also, since 2013, each class in inclusive kindergartens receives a subsidy of 40,000 RMB per year, which comes out to approximately 1,333 RMB per child per year.

The Education Bureau also provides financial subsidies and exempts fees in accordance with the development agenda for students from difficult families, rural regions, and vocational education institutions. Students from public high schools with financial difficulties and also full-time students from vocational education institutions receive a 2,000-RMB per-year subsidy if they specialise in agriculture and other demanding disciplines. The policies include both public and for-profit non-state high schools to cover more students in need.