Gao Xuegui, director of the Education Ministry's illiteracy eradication office, disclosed at the fifth Hangzhou International Education Innovation Conference that the central government allocated 18.1 billion yuan (US$2.41 billion) for use as tuition and fee waivers for nearly 150 million students this year.
Gao said that the policy has greatly reduced the financial burden on farmers. According to preliminary estimates, with regard to the fees in western China, each primary pupil has received a 140-180 yuan (US$18.8-24.1) reduction and each junior middle school student has received a 180-230 yuan (US$24.1-30.9) reduction on average.
Students from poverty-stricken families received free textbooks. Each primary pupil was awarded a stipend of 210-250 yuan (US$28.2-33.5) for school fees and each junior middle school student received 320-370 yuan (US$42.9-49.6) stipend. Boarding students got both free textbooks and subsidies and each primary pupil had 510-550 yuan (US$68.4-73.8) waivers; junior middle school student received 620-670 yuan (US$83.2-89.9) waivers.
From the beginning of 2006 spring term, students were awarded full tuition waivers for compulsory education in western rural areas. Starting from the 2007 spring term this policy was extended to the central and eastern rural areas. Currently all rural students pay no tuition or fees for their compulsory education.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Ming'ai, November 6, 2007)