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Ministry of Education Sets Target for Illiteracy Elimination

China will wipe out illiteracy among young people aged between 15 and 24 during the tenth Five-Year Plan period (2001-2005), said sources with the Ministry of Education Monday.

Improving the quality of the nation's population is one of the major concerns among members of the Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who are here attending the annual session of this top advisory body of China.

The Fifth Session of the Ninth CPPCC National Committee opened in the national capital Sunday afternoon.

The CPPCC members have put forward a series of suggestions on resolving the issue of illiteracy in the country.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Wang Dai, an Education Ministry official in charge of illiteracy elimination, said, "It is a touch job to wipe out illiteracy and there are increasing difficulties in getting the job done."

Wang said the illiteracy rate among adults has been reduced to 8.72 percent from 22.23 percent 10 years ago in China. Despite the fact, China still has more than 85 million illiterate adults, with some 90 percent being in impoverished rural areas, especially in the remote and pasture areas on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and the Loess Plateau.

In these areas, the number of illiterates is on the rise because of a lack of reading materials and elementary schools, a growing floating population and a high dropouts rate, he said.

The Chinese government has decided to give priority to wiping out illiteracy among grown-ups and popularize nine-year compulsory education for school-age children around the country during the 2001-2005 period.

Wang Dai said that different targets will be set according to the actual situation in different regions to wipe out illiteracy, and major efforts will be made to promote the literacy drive in poverty-stricken areas, regions inhabited by minorities and among women.

Another major point of the literacy drive in the near future is to promote continued study among those who have got out of illiteracy, so that they can not only read and write, but also have the ability to improve their cultural level, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2002)

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