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Vice-Premier Calls for Education Boost

China's Vice-Premier Li Lanqing urged Friday that more efforts be made to promote compulsory education to improve the overall quality of the Chinese people.

Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, told a meeting marking the 15th anniversary of the promulgation of the country's Compulsory Education Law that education will turn the country's heavy population burden into a power house of talent.

He noted that over the past 15 years, the country has poured a lot of money into the education sector. By the year 2000, China had realized the goal of basically ensuring nine-year compulsory education nationwide and eliminating illiteracy among adults.

He said that the primary school enrollment rate has reached 99.1 percent, and that of secondary middle school, 88.6 percent. The illiteracy rate among adults is below five percent.

Every Chinese citizen can receive eight years of education, on average, compared to three years in the early 1980s.

However, Li said that the education sector still faces a lot of problems, including a lack of funds.

He said the country will focus on compulsory education in the poverty-stricken western region and ethnic-minority areas, as China has entered a new stage of development in the new century.

He called for the better utilization of technology to step up compulsory education, including the Internet, so that knowledge can be spread more quickly to remote areas.

In addition, there should be a rational school layout, an improved contingent of teachers, and a stable funding source guaranteed by the government, he said.

(People's Daily 04/06/2001)

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