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Youth Illiteracy Rate in W.China to Be Under 5% by End of 2007

Chinese Education Minister Zhou Ji said here Wednesday that China has formed an educational scheme to reduce the youth illiteracy rate in its vast west area to below five percent by the end of 2007.

According to an educational guideline issued by the Ministry of Education on March 3, China has set a goal of ensuring the nine-year compulsory educational system covers at least 85 percent of the western area and basically eradicating youth illiteracy in the region.

Zhou made the remark in reply to a reporter's question at a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

To fulfill the objective, Zhou pledged China would allocate more funds from the central budget to pay for approximately 60 percent of the local rural educational expenditure and 78 percent of local teachers' salaries.

"Despite the achievements made in educational sphere, we are clearly aware that the gap between rural education and urban education in China's western and eastern regions is enlarging," Zhou noted.

He stressed that the increased national educational fund in the years ahead would be mostly devoted to rural education and to the cultivation of the compulsory educational system in China's vast countryside.

The latest statistics showed that China has input an annual educational fund of more than 10 billion yuan (about US$1.21 billion) in rural education over recent years.
(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2004)

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