The Ministry of Education (MOE) has listed improved assistance for impoverished students as one of its key efforts in 2005, the Beijing Daily reported on January 10.
To ensure that the poorest students receive an allowance of 150 yuan (US$18) per month in accordance with state regulations, the MOE has called for closer cooperation between banks and institutions of higher learning.
Approximately 2.4 million financially disadvantaged students are enrolled in China's colleges and universities, accounting for 20 percent of the total. Regulations state that 5 percent of the total number of students enrolled are entitled to the allowance.
The ministry also directed that colleges and universities allocate 10 percent of tuition fees to funding poor students.
Financial aids and support will be given greater emphasis in 2005. By 2007, MOE expects students from 24 million poor families in central and western China will enjoy free textbooks, boarding subsidies and exemption from miscellaneous fees, in accordance with a central government directive issued in 2001.
The State Council demanded governments at various levels establish special funds to cover the costs of these benefits. From 2001 through 2003, the central government also contributed a total 700 million yuan (US$84.6 million), the amount doubling each year.
As of the end of 2004, 32 percent of impoverished students in central and western China had received free textbooks.
(China.org.cn by Wind Gu, January 13, 2005)