On Thursday the Chinese Ministry of Finance announced that it had identified 1.43 billion yuan (US$184.5 million) of special funding to help rural students get free textbooks for next spring.
The money will be used to provide 34 million primary and middle school students of poor rural families in 22 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities with free textbooks.
Students from minority ethnic groups with a population of less than 100,000 will also benefit from the policy.
The ministry has ordered provincial governments and local education authorities to buy the textbooks. Money saved on government purchases should also be used to assist students from poor families.
The policy will be expanded to cover all 148 million students in rural areas nationwide later this year, said the ministry.
(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2007)