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President:Education Key to Nation

Maintaining an open dialogue on education is important for the world's most populous countries if they truly want to accelerate their economic and social progress, President Jiang Zemin said Wednesday in Beijing.

Jiang made the comment during his meeting with participants at the ongoing Nine Education Ministerial Meeting, which started on Tuesday.

The nine countries -- China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico and Nigeria -- should work together to turn their big populations into well-educated human resources in order to avoid being left behind by the globalization process, Jiang insisted.

During the discussion, he praised the worldwide education, environmental protection and other plans that have been initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

At the second day of the Nine Education Ministerial Meeting, organized by UNESCO, Vice-Premier Li Lanqing said China is ready to join hands with the UN organization and other developing countries to improve educational prospects for people.

Li said the nine countries share common ground when it comes to education even if they are located on different continents with different cultural backgrounds.

"UNESCO has been hailed by the whole world, especially developing countries, for its decade-long effort to popularize global educational programs,'' he observed.

This meeting, focusing on the topic of distance-learning, is expected to help spread education to groups of people that would otherwise have little opportunities to learn.

In explaining China's support for the UNESCO efforts, Li noted that the Chinese Government highly respects the public's right to an education.

To date, China has all but reached its goal of eliminating illiteracy among people aged 15-50 and basically ensuring people across the country receive primary and middle school level education according to Li.

China's progress in education progress will contribute to accelerating development of civilization on the global level, he added.

Sonia Mendieta de Badaroux, chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO, addressed the meeting by re-emphasizing her organization's commitment to improving education in each of the nine countries.

Since UNESCO launched its plan to provide education for all people in 1990, the nine countries have made tremendous progress in providing their people with access to schooling, de Badaroux said.

She added that such progress is encouraging as the combined number of illiterates in the nine countries accounts for nearly two thirds of the global total.

Participants in the three-day meeting, which ends Thursday, are currently working out plans to upgrade pre-schooling for children, spread free preliminary education around the globe by 2015 and enlarge opportunities for continuous education.

(China Daily 08/23/2001)

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