Chinese lawmakers and political advisors have called on the government to extend the existing compulsory education from nine years to 12, saying the country has enough resources to do so.
"The number of students for the nine-year compulsory education in Beijing has decreased year by year while rapid economic growth has enhanced education capacities," said Wang Jintang, former headmaster of the Beijing No. 1 Middle School.
China has legalized the nine-year compulsory education for more than 16 years. According to the law, school-age children must receive primary and secondary education.
Wang, who had served as headmaster for 14 years before 2004 and member of the Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has submitted a proposal for the 12-year compulsory education to the advisory body at its ongoing annual session.
Under the nine-year compulsory education program, 98.95 percent school-age children in China entered school in 2004.
Liu Weixing, a banker in Central China's Henan Province, said the 12-year compulsory education might not only meet the social demand for more qualified workers, but also create more opportunities for high school graduates to receive higher education.
"The reform will also help ease the tension of the job market, and conditions are ripe for it," said Liu, who is a delegate to the National People's Congress (NPC), or China's top legislature.
However, Li Jingfan, a professor at the Guangzhou-based Zhongshan University, disagreed to the proposed extension of compulsory education.
"To reform the existing compulsory education, we should take into consideration the function of basic education for public welfare," said Li, adding that parents in some underdeveloped areas could hardly afford the extra three years of education.
(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2006)