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China Approves New Plan for Illiteracy Elimination Work
The Chinese government recently approved a new plan for illiteracy eliminating work conducted nationwide before the year 2006, which was jointly worked out by Ministry of Education and other related departments.

The plan focuses on promotion of nine-year compulsory education, illiteracy elimination work among young and middle-aged people, especially those in poverty-stricken areas, ethnic minorities and women. Through teaching courses and reforms the elimination work will be improved with an aim to raise and keep the literate rate among young and middle-aged people above 95 percent, and prevent new illiterates from appearing.

Chinese government's efforts mainly target illiterates between the age of 15 and 50. The government encourages those above 50 to receive education while for those under 15, they must receive compulsory education form local primary and secondary schools.

Statistics show that currently China's illiteracy rate among adults is 8.72 percent, with a total number of 85 million illiterate people, next only to that of India.

The illiterate number for world adults is now about 860 million, taking up 20 percent of global population, mostly living in countries as India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria and Egypt.

For China, 90 percent illiterates live in rural areas, and half in western regions. The provinces and autonomous regions of Tibet, Qinghai, Guizhou, Gansu, Yunnan, Ningxia, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Shannxi are home to 50 percent of China's illiterates, although their whole population only takes 15 percent of the national total. In poverty-stricken rural areas, a vicious circle has formed between illiteracy and poverty.

The illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged women dropped 27 percent, being the biggest drop among other indexes. In spite of that, China now still has 55 million women illiterates, being a big headache for the elimination work. Besides, the problem of girl dropouts remains serious in certain rural areas.

Due to many reasons, China sees a number of 500,000 people joining in the rank of illiteracy each year, for primary school education has still not been extended to 200 counties and the problem of dropouts remains. The migrant population is on increase, which results in new illiterate people when old ones have not been eliminated yet. The elimination work, carried out more as a campaign than a long-term task, has made some people return to the illiterate state shortly after being taught how to read.

(People's Daily Septembert 9, 2002)

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