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US$6.4b to be allocated to rural education fund
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China's Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Wednesday it will allocate a further 47 billion yuan (6.4 billion U.S. dollars) to support rural education in the next three years until 2009.

The new funds would be used to ensure the implementation of compulsory education in rural areas, a MOF official said.

The total amount now devoted to rural education has reached 265.2 billion yuan (35.9 billion U.S. dollars) for the period between 2006 to 2010, up from 218.2 billion yuan.

Students from low-income families in the central and western regions started receiving subsidies from the this autumn semester. Primary students receive two yuan a day and secondary students three yuan on the basis of 250 schooling days, according to a notice jointly published by the MOF and Ministry of Education.

The central budget has earmarked 3.7 billion yuan annually for the central and western regions to ensure these subsidies are offered to students, up from 3.67 billion in the original plan.

The policy would benefit nearly 11 million students from low-income families in the regions, the MOF official said.

In the more developed eastern regions, student subsidies would be financed by local governments, which may get some encouragement from the central government as well, according to the notice.

The special fund would also make it possible to offer free textbooks for about 150 million rural students as of the autumn semester this year.

The notice said a public utility fund for rural students would be increased, while more funding would be allocated to build and rebuild school rooms for rural students.

(Xinhua News Agency November 29, 2007)

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