At first it reads like bad news:
China not to pursue profit-oriented education: official
BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhuanet) — Chinese education minister said here Tuesday that China will not place profit-gaining capability as the primary par for education.
At a press conference organized by the State Council Information Office, Minister Zhou Ji said that education is basically a cause for social benefits.
Governmental encouragement of private investment into education does not mean gaining economic returns is the priority for schools, said Zhou, adding that more private funds could alleviate burdens of the government for financing education.
Meanwhile, China welcomes overseas partners who are able to provide quality education service to the Chinese.
A newly adopted law stipulates that private schools are legally equal to their public counterparts.
Statistics show that by the end of 2002, about 61,200 privately-funded schools enrolled more than 11 million students. A total of 712 programs were jointly carried out by Chinese and overseas educators, nine times that of seven years before.
“Profits pursuit in education might endanger equal rights of education for every Chinese citizen,” Zhou said.
What’s going on here? My take: the Chinese government knows it has to have great gobs of education if it is to race ahead economically like it wants to. But (just like India) it can’t afford to supply this entirely out of its tax revenue. So it is going to encourage private sector, profit-oriented education. But won’t encouraging profit-oriented education encourage profit-orientation? No, says the government. We won’t be encouraging profit-oriented profit-oriented education, only non-profit-oriented profit-oriented education. So there.
And the shorter version of the above reads: never believe anything until it is officially denied. In China, as in so many places, “official” is another word for “not”.
The point here is not the answer, which is contradictory waffle. The point is the question, which is: how about all this private sector education? How about it indeed.
I am increasingly starting to believe – and I seem to recall (quick phone call) our own David Carr hinting here not so long ago at something similar – that the next great challenge to statism and statist economic policies may come not from the likes of us, but from the East.