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Needy Students Get Free School Textbooks

About 820,000 students from needy families in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on Friday received free textbooks for their nine-year compulsory education.

Zhang Mengying, a student at the Yulin Middle School in Lanxi County of the province, held the new textbooks in her hands excitedly. Both her parents are local farmers who are unable to afford the tuition for her and her younger brother.

Zhang said that she had anticipated getting the free textbooks.

The central government has arranged a special fund to provide free textbooks for poor students in rural areas and disabled students for compulsory education since 2001.

The fund for Heilongjiang Province was increased from 300,000 yuan (US$37,000 US) per semester in 2001 to 41.5 million yuan (US$5 million) per semester in 2005. The number of students receiving the books has also increased from 50,000 to 820,000 to date.

In 2004, China began to provide students from poor families with free textbooks and also exempted them from paying other school fees. Boarding students will also receive living allowances. The government set a goal of having all students from poor families complete the nine-year compulsory education by 2007.

(China Daily September 6, 2005)


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