The State will invest more than 30 billion yuan (US$3.6 billion) during the 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05) to increase the accessibility of basic education throughout the country, sources from the Ministry of Education said.
The investment is much larger than the 5 billion yuan (US$602 million) set aside during the Ninth Five-Year Plan period (1996-2000), said Li Lianning, director of the ministry's Department of Basic Education.
The money will be used to widen the nine-year compulsory education programs and improve educational facilities throughout China.
The nine-year compulsory education program covers six years of primary school education and three years of middle school education.
At present, some 85 per cent of the country's population have received or are receiving such an education program.
According to Li, during the next five years, more than 95 percent of China's population is expected to have received the nine-year compulsory education programs.
Efforts will be particularly focused on the country's central and western areas, where educational conditions are inadequate, Li added.
Educational departments in more developed eastern areas will be mobilized to help the central and western areas advance education by donating money and teaching instruments, and sending teaching staff to these areas through a rotation system, according to the ministry.
Li stressed these are only part of the education development strategy for the 10th Five-Year Plan.
The strategy, recently revealed by the State Development Planning Commission, spells out the desire to increase the number of students attending university to 15 percent by 2010 from the present 11 percent.
Colleges and universities across the country will further widen recruitment in the future to cultivate more specialized talents for regional economic development, according to the plan.
To help raise learning efficiency, distance-learning networks - such as television, broadcasting and computer-aided learning programs - will cover primary and middle schools in cities and towns across the country in the next five years.
The plan also stresses the development of life-long education programs for people of different ages.
Government and non-government sectors will also be encouraged to set up schools or learning centers to promote community-based education programs.
The State Development and Planning Commission has listed education development as an important part of the country's western development campaign.
(China Daily 08/27/2001)