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Village Schools to Be Upgraded

Primary and middle schools in remote or landlocked villages across the country will receive updated teaching programmes by 2007 thanks to a new distance-learning project.

Some 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) from the central government and 900 million yuan (US$108 million) from local governments has been raised to implement the project, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Ministry of Education, National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance are responsible for fully implementing the project. Under the project, primary and middle schools in remote villages will be equipped with computer-aided teaching instruments, audio and video classrooms and satellite receiving stations.

The move aims to help ease the shortage of teaching staff and upgrade teaching efficiency.

China has 530,000 village-level primary and middle schools in remote and rural areas, accounting for 88 percent of all primary and middle schools, whereas the number of students attending these schools is 162 million, making up 81 percent of the country's total.

In September 2003, the State Council held a national conference of rural education development and issued a decision on improving education in rural areas. The decision highlighted the development of distance-learning in rural areas.

From 2003 to last year, the Ministry of Education, National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Finance piloted the project in some of the 530,000 village-level schools.

To date, 29,229 primary schools and 2,350 middle schools have been equipped with computer-aided teaching instruments and satellite receiving stations.

Supported by the Ministry of Education and Hong Kong real estate giant Li Ka-shing, a teaching resources database with 148 gain bandwidth has been built. The database has been intertwined with computer-aided teaching instruments in piloted schools and the teaching resources have opened free to primary and middle schools in rural areas.

(China Daily January 11, 2005)

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