In China, elementary education includes pre-school education, nine-year compulsory education of elementary and junior high schools, regular senior high school education, special education for handicapped children, and elimination of illiteracy.
At present, there are over 200 million elementary and secondary school students, which number, together with that of pre-school children, accounts for one-sixth of the total Chinese population. Therefore, the Central Government has given priority to the development of elementary education, regarding it a key field of development of infrastructure construction and education. Reforms involving the basic issues of elementary education such as increasing government financial input, experimental reform of courses and implementation of a new education appraisal system, are under way in various areas in China.
To solve the uneven development of elementary education in different areas and the shortage of funds for compulsory education in rural areas, the Ministry of Finance has planned to appropriate five billion yuan from 2001 to 2005 for improving elementary education in poverty-stricken areas. The government has also prepared a special subsidy of three billion yuan for renovation of 13 million sq m of ramshackle buildings of elementary and middle schools in rural areas throughout the country, which is planned to be basically completed in two to three years.
According to the requirement of the government, the target of reform and development of China’s elementary education is to raise the general level of elementary education to or close to that of a moderately developed country by 2010.