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12-year tuition-free education unrealistic
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China's Ministry of Education says it's unrealistic to implement a 12-year tuition-free education system nationwide due to a lack of available funds, however, China will focus on strengthening its existing nine-year free compulsory education.

Sun Yunxiao, vice director of the China Youth & Children's Research Centre, says 27 counties in China still have difficulties providing a nine-year tuition-free compulsory education for children living there. China is still a developing country and doesn't have enough money to provide students all over the country with another three years of free education.

However, officials from the Education Ministry have indicated that the country will encourage local governments to popularize a 12-year tuition-free education according to their own financial situation. Zhuhai, a coastal city in China's southeast, pioneered a 12-year free education program for all kids in primary and secondary school two years ago.

To enhance the education quality of China's youth, Chinese educators are considering extending the nine-year tuition-free education to 12 years. Some suggest providing free pre-school education since fundamental education is essential to one's whole life. While others think free senior high school education will enable children to avoid cutthroat competition along the road to university. Thus, they can save some time and energy which can be better channelled into their overall development.

(CRI April 2, 2009)

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