@herenow: "serious problems in the school system apart from educational outcomes [...] preventable health problems such as stunted growth"
True, but I would not count that as as a problem in the school system, as much as problem in the public health care that should extend to school age children, as well as their family members.
I could present an anecdote (not amusing) from a neighbour family in my wife's home village. Several years ago the mother went to earn money as migrant worker in Zhejiang (returning only for CNYs), leaving husband to care for farm and two children (one in elementary school and the other in high school - both now boarding).
Minding the farm on his own, the father got some treatable sickness, but (not having wife to kick him) refused to waste money on medication (probably food as well) and it got worse.
Eventually the family decided to
have the father go to Zhejiang as well, where he could earn a little money for the family while having the wife make sure he takes care of himself.
Meanwhile the two children stayed behind in Yunnan. Boarded for school, and relatives caring rest of time.
Yes, health care of rural children should be better, but so should health care in general.
@herenow: "you are over-simplifying the labor market. In between the doctors & scientists and the construction workers & KTV hosts [...] two-year college degree: dental assistants, electrical engineering technicians, paralegals"
Yes, but I include these to vocational education.
@herenow: "bright rural kids if they can access financial aid for their studies, but most won't get there under the policy you seem to be arguing for"
I believe China already has schemes to support these bright kids. It really depends on their teachers though, and not so much of their abiltiies to teach their own subjects, as their knowledge of the support channels and interest to really help children.
This calls for more counceling and career information, rather than better or more subject teachers.
For example my wife was never a
bookworm and slept through English classes, but her teachers picked up her talents and she eventually graduated from YunDa with art degree.
Many of her fellow graduates are in extracurricular art education now. They make living covering the holes in public school system.
I would of course welcome increase in public education funding, but I'd rather have it prioritized on those who would benefit most from it, rather than distribute evenly across the board.
China should really learn from more developed countries with that, to avoid their mistakes in my opinion.
In China education is still valued greatly, for many reasons - some of which may not be healthy but still. That's where the tigermumism and these crooked school setups also spring from. They are the other side of the coin.
Inflating that value of education could spell another disaster in a country this big and complicated.