China's top political advisory body yesterday urged the central government to provide more funds to boost education in the country's vast underdeveloped central and western regions.
The Ninth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is pushing to develop compulsory education at its 18th Standing Committee meeting, which began in Beijing yesterday.
In a report released yesterday, conference members said that compulsory education in rural areas should be funded by the government and not by farmers.
The report said the focus should be on establishing a stable and effective mechanism that will guarantee the provision of funds for compulsory education in Chinese rural areas, since most of such areas are economically undeveloped.
The report pointed out that the ongoing reform to charge farmers taxes instead of levying fees cannot yet ensure more funds for rural compulsory education.
Conference members suggested that the central government establish special funds for education to help poverty-stricken areas develop education and reduce the burden on farmers.
Also on the agenda of yesterday's meeting were the prevention of desertification, assistance for poor people and the control of over-exploited natural resources.
Li Rongrong, minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, Education Minister Chen Zhili, Minister of Civil Affairs Doji Cering, and Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Forestry Administration, also gave reports on the above issues.
The conference's National Committee has conducted a number of fact-finding and research projects on desertification.
A report on the prevention of desertification said that 1.743 million square kilometres, or 18.2 per cent of China's total landmass, is now desert. The area is expanding by 3,436 square kilometres per year.
The report indicated that the most urgent task at present is to draw up a scientific and comprehensive plan for land use and desertification control. It noted that, in areas suffering from severe desertification, appropriate forest, grass and shrub coverage must be guaranteed.
High-tech measures and a lot of investment are also needed, the report stressed.
(China Daily June 26, 2002)