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September 12, 2009

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Success of compulsory education hailed

CHINA'S nine-year compulsory education policy had made great achievements in recent years, covering more than 160 million primary and middle school students so far in both rural and urban areas, Education Minister Zhou Ji told a news conference in Beijing yesterday.

Last year, the enrollment percentage in about 300,900 primary schools and 57,900 middle schools across the country both reached 98 percent, Zhou said.

In the past several years, the central government also spent tens of billions of yuan to establish more than 8,000 boarding schools nationwide, rebuild dangerous buildings and improve living conditions in schools, he said.

China's nine-year compulsory education policy, which was launched in 1986, enables students aged over six nationwide to receive free education at both primary and secondary schools.

Zhou also stressed the importance of shortening the gap between urban and rural areas in terms of teachers' quality issues, through means of improving rural teachers' economic and social status.

From January 1 this year, the government released a wage reform ensuring the payment of rural teachers should not be lower than that of local civil servants.

The government also issued many preferential policies to encourage teachers, college graduates as well as school students to go to the countryside to teach. So far this year, there have been more than 200,000 college graduates who have done so.

Vocational education development is considered an important task for China's educational development.

Zhou said there would be free access to secondary vocational education this year in order to further promote its development.

The policy would be employed firstly in agriculture-related majors and for poor students, Zhou said.

He did not reveal the time the policy would take effect.

He said secondary vocational education enrollment numbers were increasing all the time.

Last year the enrollment number in secondary vocational schools reached 8.1 million, and the number might be 8.6 million this year, he said.


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