Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for an improvement of rural education, which he said was closely connected with the overall situation of the social and economic development in rural areas.
Better standards of education will help raise rural standards of living, narrow income gaps, improve social equity and give an impetus to the growth of the national economy, said the premier in a recent speech released Wednesday.
Without the development of rural education, it would be hard to turn the burden of a too large population into a large amount of labor resources, he said.
And without the popularization of nine-year compulsory education in rural areas and ensuing elevation of rural living standards, it would be hard to realize the social fairness and build a well-off society in an all-round way, said the premier.
The State Council had decided to pick up the pace in expanding the compulsory education in the country's less-developed western areas to over 85 percent of the school aged children, and reducing youth illiteracy to below five percent, he said.
The Chinese premier demanded the governments at the provincial level and the departments of the State Council to set up special funds and enhance supervision and the county-level governments to take major responsibilities to guarantee educational investment.
Wen also noted that substantial, effective measures should be taken to subsidize students with financial difficulties to ensure their rights to receive a compulsory education.
The improvement of rural education is the most crucial task for governments at all levels, and exemplary rural teachers and their outstanding deeds should be praised and valued, the premier said.
(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2003)