China put over 10 billion yuan (about US$1.2 billion) in compulsory education in rural areas last year, which increased by 72 percent over the previous year, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE).
A MOE official told Xinhua that the Chinese government has always attached high importance to the fair and equal education of the Chinese people. Since China adopted its opening up policy in 1978, China has been dedicated to developing its education sector by matching it with national economy growth.
In 1986, China promulgated the Law on Compulsory Education, which legally safeguarded every child's equal rights to receive compulsory education. By the end of the 20th century, China fundamentally realized its goal for launching the nine-year compulsory education nationwide.
In recent years, the government further strengthened financial support to compulsory education in rural and underdeveloped areas.
Statistics showed in 2003 governmental funding for compulsory education in rural areas totaled 136.5 billion yuan (about US$16.5 billion ), among which 109.4 billion yuan (US$12.7 billion ) was budgetary.
This figure doubled that of 1999 and accounted for 80 percent of the total investment in compulsory education in rural areas in 2003. In the last four years, the official said, China put 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) into building and reconstructing boarding schools.
In the next five years, China will also put 10 billion yuan to equip junior middle schools with computers and multimedia teaching via satellite transmission.
The central government has enhanced financial support to give free textbooks to poor students, and local governments also have enhanced financial investment in aiding students in life expenditure.
China has also taken a series of measures to boost ethnic minority education. At present, there are 83,726 schools in autonomous regions for ethnic minorities, with 29.43 million on-campus students increasing by 29.7 percent since 1984.
Teachers in autonomous regions currently total 1.541 million, having increased by 16 percent since 1994. An authorized investigation nationwide showed that the 14 ethnic minorities had schooling years longer than the average nationwide.
(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2005)