China will invest more than 900 million yuan (about US$108.4 million) to improve compulsory education in the southwestern province of Guizhou in the coming four years, said the local education department.
The program plans to build 1,044 boarding middle schools in 83 poverty-stricken counties in the mountainous province.
Officials in charge of the program said it will provide 366,800 school-age children with access to junior middle school education.
A survey released by the department shows that a large number of students drop out of school due to inconvenient transportation and poverty in many parts of the province.
According to an educational guideline issued by the Ministry of Education on March 3, 2004, China has set a goal of ensuring the nine-year compulsory educational system covering at least 85 percent of the western area and reducing the youth illiteracy rate in the area to less than five percent by the end of 2007.
(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2005)