Unlike his urban peers who can eat in fast food restaurants, wear fashionable clothes and play computer games, Liu Sanzi, an eight-year-old boy from a village in Central China's Hunan Province, struggles to find food and faces dropping out of primary school at any time.
Liu's parents are debating whether Liu should stop his schooling and go to make a living on the farmland to support his seven-member poor family.
Many children like Liu still struggle to be given the chance to be educated, especially youngsters in less-developed inland and rural areas.
But Xu Shaoshi, deputy secretary general of the State Council, said the central government will step up efforts over the next five years to fight against the disparities.
In the latest step to protect children's rights, China has mapped out a blueprint to improve youngsters' lives over the next few years, highlighting health, education, legal action and environmental protection.
The scheme will focus on improving the rights of children in less developed inland regions, the offspring of migrant workers in Chinese cities and ethnic minority children.
China has set aside a special fund earmarked for education in rural areas, a fund which has grown by 19 per cent annually since 1993.
A spate of nationwide projects like the "Project Hope" have also helped children in rural regions. "Project Hope" has collected 1.8 billion yuan ($216 million) since it was set up 10 years ago and has built 7,812 schools for 2.3 million children who otherwise would not have been educated.
However, Hu Shoujun, from Fudan University, said: "Project Hope cannot help all children hit by poverty. More funds and projects should be set up."
(China Daily 06/02/2001)