Premier Zhu Rongji yesterday said the State Council would strive to reform the country's basic education system and ensure all children receive compulsory education.
Governments at various levels should take the responsibility to develop basic education, especially in rural areas, Zhu said.
"Governments at various levels, whenever and wherever they are located, must ensure their investment in basic education is adequate, instead of making the masses bear the burden which governments should bear," Zhu said.
Zhu made the remarks at the close of a national conference on basic education on Tuesday.
Since the beginning of the 1950s, China has made great progress in developing basic education, and has realized the target of introducing nine-year compulsory education and improving literacy among the young.
However, there are still many problems in the development of basic education, Zhu said.
The main problem of the present basic education system is that it has become a heavy economic burden for farmers, and there has not been an adequate supply of funds.
Many farmers have been forced to shoulder the costs which should have been covered by local governments.
The reforms will focus on enhancing the management of schools, and governments will be instructed to gradually increase their investment in basic education, especially in rural and disadvantaged regions.
Local governments will be forbidden from forcing people to pay unnecessary fees for basic education, and will be asked to pay adequate wages to teachers in primary and middle schools.
The present schools' charge on students must be controlled, and the governments should enhance supervision to make schools reduce the fee burden on students.
The State Council will establish a unified standard on compulsory education fees in rural areas.
Anyone found embezzling teachers' wages or tuition fees will be severely punished, Zhu said.
Zhu said enterprises, social organizations and individuals that invest in basic education will enjoy favourable state policies.
(China Daily 06/14/2001)