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Illiteracy Threatens Over 400 Counties

Due to certain social and economic deficiencies, China's compulsory education is confronted with a number of serious problems. As a result, the "Nine-year Compulsory Education" (six years for primary school plus three years for junior middle school) is not yet fully available in more than 400 of the country's 2,053 counties, according to sources from the Ministry of Education.

Since the early 1990s, the Chinese government has made painstaking efforts to make the "Nine-year Compulsory Education" universal across the country by the end of the 20th century. It formulated a series of coordinated policies to ensure the success of the plan.

China basically achieved the goal at the turn of the 21st century as 85 percent of the national population had had access to the "Nine-year Compulsory Education," whereas in the early 1990s the percentage was 40. Statistics released at the summit of the education ministers of the world's nine major developing countries held in 2000 in Brazil indicated that China ranks among the top ones among the nine participating countries in enrollment rates of primary and junior high schools.

In recent years, the country's regional disparities in education have been narrowed and state funds invested in education has seen a steady and remarkable increase.

Despite the achievements, there is still a large room for China to improve its compulsory education. Today the overall level of compulsory education is still low and many schools in poor rural areas are starving for funds to better their facilities as well as faculties. In addition, teachers in quite a few schools haven't been prepared yet to shift their concentration from exam instructions to cultivating students' all-round physical and mental makings.

(China.org.cn by Chen Chao, October 22, 2003)

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