The Chinese government is to provide free textbooks to more primary and high school students from poor families.
A circular, jointly issued by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education, also directs regional governments to exempt poor students from miscellaneous charges and to give them subsidies.
A source with the Ministry of Finance said China initiated the free text book system, funded by the central government, in 2001. The system covered 32 percent of students from impoverished families in central and western China, including 56 counties in the south of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the region's border areas.
The budget for the system was raised from 100 million yuan (US$12.05 million) in 2001 to 400 million yuan (US$48.2 million) in 2003, according to the source.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2004)