The Chinese government will raise the proportion of annual government expenditure on education to 4 percent of the country's GDP, Premier Wen Jiabao has announced.
He said government would help further spread and consolidate compulsory education, speed up occupational learning, improve education at higher institutes and deepen reforms.
Between July and November the Premier presided over four forums on education development with teachers, educational experts, middle school masters, university presidents and officials.
"China's economy has maintained high-speed growth for 28 consecutive years and become the fourth largest economy of the world. The country's sustainable development and prosperity hinge on education," Wen said.
The government always paid close attention to education and compulsory education had been launched in rural areas and universities and colleges had enrolled a larger number of students. "The public education demand has been satisfied to some extent," said Wen.
"But we should realize that some problems still exist in education development. We shall promote sustainable and healthy educational development by increasing investment, deepening reform and strengthening management," added Wen.
He said the nine-year compulsory education, which was important for promoting social equity and building a harmonious socialist society, should be vigorously extended.
Schools should reduce student assignments and encourage them to attend more extracurricular activities so that they'd have time to learn more about society and enhance their sense of social responsibility, Wen observed.
He said more efforts should be put into developing occupational education as it would assist alleviate the shortage of skilled people and help more migrant workers and the urban unemployed find jobs.
Educational reform should be deepened in universities and colleges so as to train more graduates to think of innovation.
"China needs high-quality teachers," he said. "The government will intensify support for education so as to attract the best people into teaching."
He ordered local governments to raise salaries and benefits for teachers in rural areas.
(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2006)