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Praise for China's Commitment to 'Education for All'

"I am fully impressed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks and five-point commitment to beef up China's educational aid to other developing countries," Assistant Director-General Peter Smith for Education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who was in Beijing for the Fifth High-Level Group Meeting on Education for All, scheduled to end on November 30.

Wen's plan demonstrates China's commitment to focus on education for all and China will certainly achieve its purpose with this education priority strategy, Smith said when meeting the press yesterday afternoon.

Each of his five points suggests a leadership position that China is going to play with other nations and UNESCO to promote education for all. As partners, it was forceful, specific and respectful.

One of the five points is committing US$1 million to the Africa Capacity Building Center and the Education Center for Women and Girls in Africa, UNESCO's new institutes. Smith expressed his appreciation on behalf of UNESCO for the support, adding that it would help UNESCO do a better job in helping Africa and its poor.

Another point, to increase student exchanges, Smith said, was in the list of right things to do, as history has proven that student exchange is one of the paths to world peace. The point in itself was a tremendous promotion of world peace.

When talking about the educational problems in China, especially in the rural areas where education lags far behind the cities, Smith expressed his confidence in China's capacity to address them. China has identified the issues, candidly stated the challenges it faces in resolving these issues, and takes the problem very seriously.

Smith said that UNESCO understands that rural education is not merely an education issue. It also has to do with rural development.

It is therefore imperative to develop not only educational levels, but also for the government to implement economic policies that create a vital, dynamic economy in rural parts of China, as these two factors are closely linked together, he explained.

UNESCO will share China's experience in developing the education sector with other countries.

Wen's five-point commitment to strengthen China's aid to other developing countries:

To increase trainee school head and teacher numbers from current 500 to 1,500;

To commit US$1 million to the Africa Capacity Building Center and the Education Center for Women and Girls in Africa, and conduct joint research and training;

To establish 100 rural schools in and provide teaching facilities to other developing countries within three years;

To increase the number of scholarship students from other developing countries from 6,700 to 10,000 as of next year;

To increase aid to disaster-hit developing countries.

Smith will visit schools, universities and the E-9 Rural Education Research Center as a state guest at the weekend. He took his post as Assistant Director-General for Education for UNESCO in June 2005.

(China.org.cn by Guo Xiaohong November 29, 2005)

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