The Chinese government has made a decision to guarantee the vast majority of school-age children to complete a nine-year compulsory education by 2007, Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday.
On the eve of China's 19th Teachers' Day, which falls on September 10, the premier said the State Council has made the decision to set a five-year goal of letting at least 85 percent of school-aged children in China's impoverished western region have access to the nine-year compulsory education, which includes six years of primary and three years of junior school education.
During his short four-point address to a group of outstanding teachers from rural areas of the country and college teachers Tuesday morning, Wen described the target as an important and arduous task, which requires the relentless efforts of the whole country.
He also promised efforts to raise the social status of teachers and improve their working and living conditions, while urging them to set good examples for their students and the society as a whole.
Wen explained that teachers are the key in the undertaking of education, which is significant for the long-term social and economic development of the country.
By 2002, China had 11.5 million teachers across the country, according to figures released by the Ministry of Education.
In the last point of his speech, the premier called on governments at all levels to do their utmost to increase investment in education and create better conditions for education.
Attaching great importance to and promoting education will lay a solid foundation on which China can become "rich and powerful", the premier said.
The premier also marked the eve of Teachers' Day by visiting two primary schools, a kindergarten, a middle school and a renowned professor in Beijing.
(Xinhua News Agency September 10, 2003)