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Legally Support Free Education

The country should establish a legal framework for financial responsibilities of governments at various levels regarding compulsory education, says an article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

Recently, Minister of Finance Jin Renqing told a global CEO summit meeting that the central coffers will give full support to the promotion of a truly free nine-year compulsory education in rural areas next year. Rural children will be exempted from assorted fees and some impoverished ones may even enjoy free accommodation.

The Ministry of Education also made a similar commitment days earlier.

It is indeed inspiring news that teens in the vast underdeveloped rural regions can enjoy better education prospects.

For a long period, the government has put its financial priority on urban and higher education. As a result, it has been the responsibility of the rural parents to see that their children get an education.

The original intention of the compulsory education system was to shift the financial burden for a certain degree of education from parents to the government, and to provide all citizens with a comparatively equal education opportunity.

However, such hopes have not been realized. Farmers, who are the nation's lowest-income group, still have to hand over a long list of fees for their children's basic education.

It is of vital importance that various government departments should work out a formula for free compulsory education in the vast rural areas. Close co-operation between the ministries of finance and education is also needed to ensure implementation.

Governments at different levels should communicate effectively and work out their share of the financial burden.

The smooth implementation of free compulsory education, co-ordination among different departments and a reasonable financial burden distribution among various levels of governments are all needed.

To this end, a set of legal documents should be established.

(China Daily December 2, 2005)

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