Education equity in China, developing world

From: Linda Purrington (
Date: Fri Nov 05 1999 - 23:07:00 EST
There was a very interesting front-page article in the New York Times
(Nov 1), "School a Luxury for Rural Chinese Girls," which contained a lot of
dismal information.

Although china requires nine years of compulsory education, school
attendance is falling in parts of rural China as government cuts the
education budget and school fees rise. Girls are the most affected, for
the usual reasons (son preference, daughters used as household labor,
daughter seen as poor "investment" since she'll marry into another family and so

The article cites villages where only twenty percent of girls (and forty
percent of boys) are in school. The Women's Federation runs a charity,
called Spring Bud, which helps some girls but it can only fill a small
fraction of the need. The biggest obstacle is school fees, which are
rising-- in one village from $2.50 per semester to $7.50-- this in a
region where family income is around $50 a year!

Anyway, the article got me thinking. The amount of money keeping girls
(and many boys also) from school is, by Western standards, so tiny! If I have
lunch in a coffee shop here in New York City, that's $7.50 right there
five months of school for a Chinese child. Even the highest figure cited
by the times ($35 dollars for a year of school) would barely pay for dinner
out and a movie. So I'm wondering if there is a Fund that raises money
in the West to pay the school fees for poor kids in the developing world (I
believe the school fee problem is also a big factor in keeping girls
from getting an education in some African countries. Maybe elsewhere too?)

Does anyone know of such a fund?

Katha Pollitt
The Nation
New York NY

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