The first step: Improving buildings to remake schools
After teacher salaries, the largest percentage of education budgets is allocated to infrastructure, and the lion’s share of those funds to new school construction. By collaborating with Education Bureaus to repair and renovate existing schools at a fraction of the cost of demolishing them and building new ones, CSF is modeling a different approach that would free up government funds for resources and programs that have a more direct impact on improved student learning.
This approach has produced considerable savings in CSF’s initial projects. In Yunnan Province, CSF partnered with the Kunming Education Bureau to renovate a school slated for closure. The ￥125,000 (US $18,300) cost of renovation – only 25 percent of the amount budgeted for the replacement school – was shared among the parties.
Likewise in Shaanxi Province, three of the four CSF project schools were slated for demolition. In this instance, the government contributed ￥350,000 (US $51,250) of the total renovation cost for the four schools. As a consequence, 85 percent of the funds contributed by the corporate donor could be expended on resourcing the school, teacher training, and other enrichment programs.
The added value of this approach is the preservation of traditional village schools and providing Education Bureaus with viable alternatives to moving young children far from home to receive their primary education in distant township or county magnet schools.