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Poorest Students May Get Extra $6.6b
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The country will allot about 50 billion yuan ($6.6 billion) a year to fund needy students from this year's fall semester, a Ministry of Finance official said yesterday.

The move is another major step toward improving equality in education, the official said. The central government has already exempted rural area students from paying tuition and miscellaneous fees for the nine-year compulsory education scheme.

About 4 million students in 1,800 colleges and universities and 16 million students in 15,000 secondary vocational schools will benefit from the new scheme, he said.

The ministry will try to make national scholarships, bursaries and student loans available to more students, and prompt schools to earmark a certain amount out of their earnings to support needy students, he said.

The aid to be granted by all levels of financial authorities during the fall semester will reach 15.4 billion yuan ($2.03 billion). For the whole of next year, it will be 30.8 billion yuan ($4.05 billion).

The official said improving the quality of education and helping needy students in rural areas finish their nine-year compulsory education is among the top priorities of the central government.

By 2010, the nation will have allocated 218.2 billion yuan ($28.7 billion) in total, out of which 125.4 billion yuan ($16.6 billion) will be borne by the central government, he said.

Last year, students in rural areas of western China were exempted from tuition and miscellaneous fees for the nine-year compulsory education, and the scheme was extended to central and eastern regions this year.

(Xinhua News Agency September 10, 2007)

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