The number of illiterate people in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the largest Muslim-inhabited area in China, has reduced by 400,000 over the past decade, a regional government official announced recently.
According to the latest national census statistics, in Ningxia, 82 percent of people of 60 or over have an educational background of primary school level or higher. This is 13 percent more than the figure in 1990, said Zhu Ni, director of the Ningxia Regional Development Planning Commission.
The illiteracy rate in Ningxia has dropped from 22 percent to 11 percent over the past decade. The number of university graduates in every 100,000 residents has increased from 1,609 in 1990 to the present 3,690.
Zhu attributed the achievement to the implementation of the nine-year compulsory education system and a 10-year region wide campaign to wipe out illiteracy.
Before 1949, when the People's Republic was founded, 80 percent of the Chinese were illiterate. The intensive anti-illiteracy campaign launched in the 1950s and 60s had almost stamped out illiteracy in cities. Today, illiterate people mainly live in the countryside, especially in border regions, poverty-stricken areas and areas where ethnic minorities are concentrated.
(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2002)