V. Citizens' Rights to Receive Education
Over the past few years, Chinese citizens' educational level has continued to rise. Statistics show that by 1996, there were 646,000 primary schools nationwide, with an enrollment of 136.15 million pupils, an increase of 11.2 percent over 1990; there were 80,000 middle schools with a total enrollment of 57.397 million, a jump of 25.2 percent over 1990; there were 1,032 universities and colleges, with a total of 3.021 million students, up 46.4 percent; universities and colleges for adults numbered 1,138, with the enrollment standing at 2.656 million, a leap of 59.5 percent; and the number of secondary vocational schools in various forms at various levels stood at 18,600, with 10.879 million students, an increase of 66.7 percent. We may say that China has established an educational system which can basically guarantee citizens' rights to receive an education.
China has in place a set of legal systems to guarantee citizens' rights to get an education. After the Education Law of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in 1995, the Law for Vocational Education of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in May of 1996, stipulating that citizens have the legal right to receive vocational education, thus further perfecting the legal educational system. Based on this, the government adopted various measures to ensure that the citizens enjoy their right to get an education. According to figures from the State Statistics Bureau, in 1995, there were 18.36 million children between the ages of six and 14 who did not study in schools, a decrease of 14.51 million compared with the number in 1990 when a census was taken. The rate of children in the 6-14 age group who did not study in schools dropped from 18.62 percent in 1990 to 8.38 percent in 1995, a decrease of 10 percentage points. Primary education is now universal in more than 90 percent of China's populated area, and the enrollment rate for children at primary school age is 98.81 percent. The rate of graduates of primary schools entering junior middle schools is 92.62 percent. By 1995, the number of illiterates had dropped to 145 million, and the rate of adult illiterates had dipped to 16.48 percent. The rate of young and adult illiterates had dropped to 6.14 percent. In 1996, an additional four million young and adult illiterates learned to read and write.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the need to help university students with financial difficulties complete their study. It has adopted measures to aid these students through scholarships, loans, funding for part-time work and part-time study program, allowances and exemption or reduction of tuition fees. The central government has allocated special funds to aid students with financial difficulties. From 1994 to 1996, the allocation reached more than 440 million yuan. Many regions and departments have earmarked special funds to aid these students.
To guarantee citizens' rights to receive education and improve the scientific and cultural quality of the nation as a whole, the country has planned to make the nine-year compulsory education universal and basically wipe out illiteracy among the young and adults by the year 2000. To do so, the Chinese government has actively adopted a number of measures. In 1996, an additional 457 counties, cities and districts in 26 provinces and autonomous regions, having a population of 190 million, or 16.4 percent of the population of the whole country, met the demand to make the nine years of compulsory education universal and basically wipe out illiteracy among the young and adults. So far, an accumulative total of 1,482 counties, cities and districts, covering 50 percent of the population of the whole nation, have reached the goals.
Since 1983, the Chinese government has established, in succession, four special government subsidy funds to make compulsory education universal in old revolutionary base areas, areas inhabited by minority ethnic groups, remote areas and poor areas, and to support vocational education, teacher-training and the education of national minorities. In addition to the government-controlled added city education fund, which is some 300 million yuan each year, the funding has been mainly used to support the development of education in poor regions. The government has decided to allocate a special fund of 3.9 billion yuan from the central budget between 1995 and 2000 to focus on poor counties recognized by the ``National Plan for Poverty Relief.'' Also, supplementary government allocations will come from local budgets at various levels. An estimated 10 billion yuan in total will be poured into the program. The fund will be mainly given to poor counties recognized by the Plan and part of the money will go to provincially recognized counties with economic difficulties and poor development of primary education. The priority will be given to ethnic minority regions in using the fund. Moreover, the ``Hope Project,'' which has been enforced for many years, showed marked new progress in 1996. Statistics show that the project received nationwide donations totalling 286 million yuan in 1996, which helped build 1,560 ``Hope'' primary schools and aided 290,000 dropouts. Over the past seven years, the ``Hope Project'' has received an accumulative total of 978 million yuan of donations, which has been used to build 3,634 ``Hope'' schools and aided 1.549 million dropouts.
The Chinese government has made great efforts to develop education for the disabled. By the end of 1996, the country had built 1,426 compulsory special education schools, with an enrollment of some 321, 100 blind, deaf and retarded students. The number of such schools and the number of disabled students increased by 91.15 percent and 345.97 percent over the 1990 figures respectively.