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China to Extend Compulsory Education

China plans to extend its nine years of compulsory education to cover more than 98 percent of the population and to wipe out illiteracy in all people between 15 and 24 years old by 2010, the Ministry of Education announced in a statement today.

By the end of 2004, the country had extended compulsory education to cover 93.6 percent of the population, the report said.

Zhang Xinsheng, Vice Minister of Education, said the number of students taking senior education in China rose to 14 million this year from 6.28 million in 1998, the highest number of senior students in the world.

Premier Wen Jiabao has announced that China will fund long-district education in rural areas in the next five years, which will involve the state bearing the cost of equipping junior high schools in rural areas with computers and with media-linked classrooms and making satellite teaching available. At the same time all rural schools will have educational DVDs in line with other cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

By 2007, the government will exempt poor students from book and incidental expenses in rural areas, Zhang said.

Zhang also said the government had spent 107 billion yuan (US$12.24 billion) more on elementary schools in rural areas in 2004, compared with 2000, and 57.4 billion yuan more on junior high schools.

(Shanghai Daily November 11, 2005)

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