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Project to Benefit Poor Students in Yunnan
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More than 1,000 poor students from ethnic minority groups in southwest China's Yunnan Province will benefit from an aid project launched this week in the provincial capital of Kunming.

Starting from this year, each student will receive a yearly subsidy of 800 yuan (US$100) to cover living expenses until they finish their nine years of compulsory education.

With a start-up fund of 2 million yuan (US$250,000) from China Merchants Bank (CMB), the subsidy scheme aims to provide financial aid to poor students in China's western regions, especially those from minority groups.

About 1,000 poor students from primary and junior middle schools in Yunan's Dehong and Diqing prefectures and Kunming will be the first to benefit from the scheme.

The project also aims to aid more poor students in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said CMB.

As one of the students attending the project's launch ceremony, 14-year-old Sun Yuxiang said she was relieved to know she would not have to drop school again.

The girl, from the minority De'ang ethnic group in Dehong, dropped out after graduating from primary school, because of poverty.

Due to poverty and mountainous surroundings, the education level in many of the regions where minority groups live lags far behind that in cities, said He Tianchun, director of the Yunnan Provincial Bureau of Education.

About 17 counties out of Yunnan's total of 129 have not yet made the first nine years of school compulsory, and 12 of those are autonomous counties where ethnic minority groups live, said He.

"Schools in these counties and poor students from minority groups need more help," he said, stressing that help from society is an essential supplement to the government's support.

(China Daily June 2, 2006)

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