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Premier Pledges to Eliminate Illiteracy in Five Years

As the 20th National Teachers' Day approaches, Premier Wen Jiabao visited teachers in Beijing and sent greetings to more than 10 million teachers and educational workers country-wide.

"Education is of fundamental importance to the fulfillment of China's long-range missions," Wen said while visiting an 83-year-old retired primary school teacher.

He said ensuring the schooling of children is the primary task of the government.

"Only when education is available to everyone, can social equality be achieved and quality of the citizens improved," he said.

According to Wen, China will put an end to illiteracy and popularize compulsory education in the nation in five years. The government will make special appropriations to improve the conditions of primary and high schools. Meanwhile, it will further strive to establish a team of high-level teachers.

While visiting an 88-year-old dancer, Wen said while China has made progress in economic and social development, it should also educate students in the art and culture. He urged all levels of the government to support the development of art and art education.

He said that in addition to improving the basic education, China must also make great efforts to improve higher education to cultivate a large number of outstanding professionals.

He mentioned that in key scientific research institutions and key areas of scientific research, China will recruit outstanding talents from around the world.

China's National Teachers' Day falls on Sept. 10.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2004)

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