China will invest a further 218.2 billion yuan (US$27.28 billion) in rural education in the 2006-2010 period, according to the Ministry of Finance.
The money will be allocated from central and local budgets, according to the ministry on Tuesday.
Educational investment in rural areas will total 223.5 billion yuan this year, a rise of 39.5 billion yuan year on year, said Premier Wen Jiabao while delivering a government work report at the on-going session of the National People's Congress, the top legislature of China.
Wen said 10 billion yuan will be allocated from the central budget to rebuild rural middle schools. Local governments will allocate support funds for the program.
China is working to establish a mechanism that guarantees compulsory rural education funding. The mechanism is designed to ensure that the cost of rural education is covered by central and local finances.
Last year China exempted students in rural areas of western China from tuition and miscellaneous fees related to nine-year compulsory education. The exemptions will be expanded to central and eastern regions this year.
The move will relieve the financial burden on 150 million rural households with school-age children, who make up nearly 80 percent of the country's primary and junior middle school students.
(Xinhua News Agency March 6, 2007)