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Better education for rural residents

CHINA must give rural residents broader access to education and training to support agriculture and increase farmers' employment, a political adviser said yesterday.

The government should make it a fundamental task to improve modern farming techniques and non-farm job skills of the rural population, whose "scientific and cultural levels are relatively low," said Wen Simei, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League, a non-communist party.

A Ministry of Agriculture survey shows each farmer has 7.8 years of education on average while more than 70 percent only have a primary or junior high school education.

Among rural workers who left home for urban jobs in the first half of 2007, only 19.7 percent had been trained, Wen, also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said, citing MOA figures.

Professional skill training can facilitate the transfer of laborers from agriculture to non-farm sectors and help secure stable jobs for migrant workers, Wen said in a speech to the annual session of the top advisory body.

He advised increasing government spending for that purpose, which he said will do more good than income or agricultural production subsidies.

As waning foreign demand battered coastal exporters, China has seen about 20 million out of 130 million migrant workers return to their rural homes without jobs.


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