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China Daily Global / 2020-08 / 18 / Page011

Huge campus spending by poor county uncalled for

By Wang Yiqing | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-08-18 00:00

The news of a "luxury campus" coming up in Zhen'an county of Shangluo, Shaanxi province, has triggered a furor online.

Zhen'an shed its poverty-stricken county tag just last year. However, the county with total revenue generation of less than 200 million yuan ($28.8 million) in the last fiscal year, is spending 710 million yuan to build a luxury middle school. A large part of the investment comes from bank loans, which means the local government will have to repay about 50 million yuan to the bank annually for 12 consecutive years.

Investment in education is definitely crucial for the development of impoverished regions. However, such extravagant spending by a notso-rich county is questionable. Reports said the local government is spending a fortune on the campus garden and the upcoming library is modeled after the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

Besides, they are carving a part of the nearby mountain to build an artificial waterfall with rocks on the campus, a luxury that will in no way serve the cause of education.

In August 2018, the General Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guidance report on optimizing the use of educational funds, strictly forbidding the building of luxury campuses. Instead of building an expensive campus, the funds could be better utilized improving teachers' salaries or providing subsidies to needy students.

The local government reacted to the news saying the upcoming school merges two local middle schools and the construction is in accordance with relevant regulations and policy. The question is how the plan received approval. The Shangluo government says it is investigating. It is hoped the controversy is handled properly, and serves as a warning for other regions that education funds should be spent only on students' welfare.


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