By the end of 2004, 93.6 percent of children were enrolled in the nation's nine-year compulsory education program, said the Ministry of Education's Han Jin at a press conference on Tuesday. The figure represents a rise of 0.3 percent from 2003.
The enrollment rate for primary education last year was 99.0 percent, inching up 0.3 percent from the previous year. The enrollment rate for girls was 98.9 percent, approaching that of boys.
Last year, about 13.7 million students matriculated at high schools, bringing the total number of on-campus students to 36.1 million.
The country's 14,500 high school level vocational/technical schools enrolled a total 5.5 million students, up 6.3 percent year-on-year.
More than 20 million on-campus students were attending the 2,236 various institutions of higher learning, Han said. The enrollment rate was 19 percent, two percentage points higher than the previous year.
The number of kindergartens increased by 1,509 to reach 117,900. Special schools for the disabled enrolled 50,800 new students, bringing the total number on campus to 371,800.
Private schools, now governed by newly issued laws and regulations, saw 1.8 million students enrolled at 78,500 institutions. Around 1.4 million people chose to study at private universities and colleges.
Han also stated that the illiteracy rate has been held below 4 percent.
However, he noted, many long-term problems remain, such as the gap between educational investment and citizen demand, and persistent difficulties in rural areas.
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2005)