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School Dropout Rate Climbs

The issue of the rising dropout rate in rural schools must be addressed to maintain long-term economic and social development in rural areas, Chinese lawmakers and political advisors said in Beijing on Thursday.


A recent survey conducted by the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy shows the average rate of dropouts in rural junior high schools has approached an alarming 40 percent. Nearly half -- 48.3 percent -- stay at home to work as farmers, while 16.7 percent leave their hometowns to find work.


The rising rate of dropouts in rural schools has gravely impaired rural educational development and will hinder economic and social development, said Wen Jiating, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who is in Beijing to attend the ongoing annual session of the national advisory body.


Zhang Chengfen, also a member of the CPPCC National Committee, urged the government to strengthen its attentiveness to nine-year compulsory education and set a specific agenda to address the issue of rural dropouts.


Wen Jiating said the reason behind the rising rate is students' boredom with classes as well as financial concerns of their parents.


"Rrural education should be modified so that it is oriented toward not only enabling students to pass college entrance examinations, but also improving the quality of farmers as a whole," said Wen.


Wen suggested that rural schools stop imitating urban schools in their curricula, instead tailoring them to meet practical needs of rural students.


At the same time, the income gap between urban and rural teachers should also be narrowed so that more high-caliber teachers are willing to work in rural areas.


Deputies to the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, have also suggested that pro-education policies and programs should be implemented to support rural students in less developed regions.


(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2005)

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