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China to Raise Education Expenditures
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China will increase financial input for education in the coming five years and gradually raise the proportion of annual government education expenditures to 4 percent of the gross domestic product GDP according to an official document seen Monday.

"It should be made clear that governments at all levels have the responsibility to provide public education, as well as support the development of the private education sector," read the Guidelines for the 11th Five-Year Guidelines for National Economic and Social Development, which are being discussed at the annual full session of the Chinese parliament, the National People's Congress.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, the proportion of China's government education expenditures to the GDP stood at 3.41 percent in 2002, up from 2.55 percent in 1998.

"We must implement the strategy of reinvigorating China with science and technology and improving China's national strength with skilled personnel, ... and work hard to build an innovation- based country and a country with human resources advantages," says the document.

A major task for the country's education is to promote and consolidate the nine-year compulsory education, especially in the vast countryside, according to the guidelines.

In his cabinet work report delivered at the just-opened parliament session on Sunday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged that the government would eliminate all charges on rural students receiving nine-year compulsory education before the end of 2007.

The new policy, which requires an additional 218.2 billion yuan (US$27.27 billion) in the central government budget expenditures over the next five years, is expected to benefit some 160 million school-age children in the rural regions, who account for nearly 80 percent of the country's primary and junior middle school students.

(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2006)

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