A delegate to the National People's Congress (NPC) has submitted to the annual session of the Chinese parliament a proposal appealing for a program to prolong the current 9-year compulsory education to a period of 12 years.
President Liu Weixing of Anhui branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the deputy, cited the following four major reasons:
-- to help train more technical workers. Chinese enterprises are now forced to employ large numbers of less capable people because of the shortage of workers who master certain technology;
-- to ease the pressure from unemployment. The country's population aged above 16 will add an average 5.5 million annually in the coming two decades, bringing the total labor force to 940 million by 2020. An extended compulsory education program will enable them to be employed three or even more years later;
-- to provide "knowledge asset" for poor families. A 12-year compulsory education program is like "sending charcoal in snowy weather" to rural families and poverty-stricken urban households; and
-- to help solve the "three rural" issue -- agriculture, rural areas and farmers, a centerpiece on the work agenda of the Chinese leadership aiming for the achievement of balanced economic development and social harmony. An extended compulsory education program will cover more farmers and help them enhance the capability of raising income, Liu said.
The current 9-year compulsory education program from primary to junior high school covers nearly 94 percent of the Chinese population, sources say.
Liu noted that the country's fast and stable economic growth has created conditions for a 12-year compulsory education program, while the swelling scale of higher-learning institutions have made it possible to enroll more students.
"The time (for the implementation of a 12-year compulsory education program) is ripe now," he said.
Liu suggests different places install the scheme in line with their own conditions.
Beijing, the country's capital city, has already announced its plan to popularize a 12-year compulsory education scheme step by step, while the economic hub Shanghai said it had achieved the goal and was moving toward an upper goal: to let children and juveniles enjoy 14-year compulsory education.
(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2005)