Population, Education to Mix at Meeting

One common issue -- the negative effects of big populations on schooling -- will bring 150 education officials and experts from nine populous countries together in Beijing next week for a meeting on the improvement of learning for half the world's people.

The Nine Education Minister's Meeting, organized by the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization, will take place from next Tuesday to Thursday.

The nine countries sending representatives to the meeting are China, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Their combined population accounts for half of the world total, while the number of illiterates they have make up 70 percent of the global number, sources from the Ministry of Education said.

The meeting will focus on promoting comprehensive education through advanced information and communications technology, Zhang Xinsheng, vice-minister of education said at a press conference Friday in Beijing.

China plans to use information technology, particularly the Internet, to accelerate development of its life-long education system, Zhang said.

He spoke of the three-day meeting as a good chance for China to compare education notes with the other eight countries.

In 1993, education officials from the nine countries gathered in New Delhi to discuss the issue of popularizing basic education for all citizens.

The ministers decided to hold additional meetings every two years. The past three were held in Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil.

Over the past few years, these countries have made a great progress in promoting basic education, claimed Li Lianning, director of the Ministry of Education's Department for Basic Education.

Li cited the example of Brazil, where the number of children attending primary schools has increased to 95 percent at present from 86 percent in 1990.

The number of children attending primary schools in China has risen to 99 percent now from 97 percent in 1990

(China Daily 08/18/2001)

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