China strives for free compulsory education for all

China takes another big step towards modernization by :

At the end of 2005, the Chinese government announced it would invest 125.4 billion yuan (US$15.6 billion) over the next five years to foot the bill for compulsory education in rural areas, making sure every rural child has the opportunity for a free nine-year education.

Central government invested 3.69 billion yuan (US$461.3 million) on schools in 12 western provinces including Yunnan and Sichuan to cover the school fees before the start of 2006 spring semester.

The plan is to extend the scheme to China’s central and eastern areas, with 148 million primary and junior high school students receiving a free education in 2007. By 2008, all the fees for rural China’s 400, 000 elementary and junior high schools will be shouldered by central and local governments. Local governments have been ordered to pay a minimum 92.8 billion yuan (US$11.6 billion) over the next five years, bringing the total spending to a potential 212.8 billion yuan (US$26.6 billion).

In addition, students from poor farming families in key counties included in the national poverty alleviation plan will be provided with free textbooks and exempted from paying miscellaneous fees. Boarding students will receive a living allowance.

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