A good post from Seeing Red in China about the quality of rural education in China:
The major cause of this gap is due to a significant lack of funding for education.
While China’s goal is to invest 4% of the GDP in education (world average is 7%), many provinces fall short of even that low bar. Through the 80′s and 90′s national funds were targeted at developing education on China’s east coast, and local governments (the lowest level), were responsible for funding local schools. These local gov’ts diverted funds (and still do) to projects that they thought would give them better returns on their investments. Rural schools were so short on funding that teachers were often paid in locally produced goods, like baijiu and cigarettes, and left to resell them. Good teachers fled as fast as they could. This resulted in a major rural/urban gap in education.
Yet, major problems remain. Poor counties still are expected to educate students with incredibly limited resources. In rural areas salaries usually make up 80-90% of their budgets, and the remainder is spent on classroom supplies. This results in crumbling buildings, where teachers are left to scrounge for chalk and erasers so that they can use their blackboards which are actual boards painted black (I know this from personal experience).
Definitely worth a quick read. He says there’s more to come- I hope so.