The central government has decided to allocate 1 billion yuan (US$121 million) to fund the increased enrolment of senior high school students mainly in central and western China.
Sources with the State Development and Reform Commission said the revenue from treasury bonds would be used to finance the construction of classrooms and laboratories for about 500 senior high schools across the country.
The money would enable each senior high school in counties with a big population and in cities to build 5,500 square meters of new classrooms.
Each high school would be able to accommodate another 18 classes and enroll an extra 900 students once the expansion projects are completed by the end of this year. Nationally, about 450,000 more junior high school students will be enrolled in senior high school next year due to the investment.
A total of 16 million junior high school students graduate each year in China. About half of them cannot enter senior high school due to a lack of classrooms and teachers.
Analysts say the move will help produce more well-trained young people, especially in central and western China, but the competition between senior high school students in China for college places will eventually grow more intense as a result.
China has increased the number of college places in recent years to tap its huge human-resources potential and meet the growing demand for higher education.
In its latest annual report, the Ministry of Education said improving basic education has been a key task of governments in China. Most children, including those in western and central China, have the guarantee of nine years of compulsory education - six years in primary school and three years in junior high school.
At the end of last year, 98.58 per cent of children of primary school and junior high school age were enrolled thanks to great efforts by the government to improve basic education.
(China Daily May 21, 2003)