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Rural School Pupils Drop to 10-year Low, November 20, 2012 Adjust font size:

The number of rural school pupils has dropped to a ten year low with more than 60 schools closing every day, a report on countryside learning revealed.

From 2000 to 2010, some 63 primary schools, 30 teaching schools and 3 junior schools closed on average every day in the countryside.

The statistics, released by the Education Institute of Beijing Institute of the Technology and the 21st Century Education Research Institute Research Institute - held from November 17 to 18 in Beijing - raised fears about literacy levels in rural areas.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of countryside primary school pupils decreased by 37.8 percent while the number of junior students decreased by 26.97 percent.

More than 300,000 countryside schools and learning institutes closed over the same period, while 10,600 junior schools closed.

The report claimed the decline of the school-aged population has led to the decline of rural schools, with many parents migrating to cities to find work.

Yang Dongping, president of the Education Institute of Beijing Institute of the Technology, claims the large scale removal of countryside schools led to the gradual decline of rural education and excessive merging of schools, leading to long travel and high tuition fees.

The dropout rate of primary schools is back to ten years ago and lower grade students are the main group who leave their studies, according to Han Qinglin, the inspector of Hebei Education Department and the director-general of the rural education branch of the Chinese Education Society.

"The large continuous merging of schools has resulted in not only the dropout of lower grade students, but even worse, a great deal of students cannot enter school which means it is possible more than a million illiterate people will appear every year," said Han.

The general office of the State Council unveiled 'The Opinion of Managing Rural Education Compulsory Schools Layout Adjustment' in September which called for the policy of merging schools, implemented for over ten years, to be halted.

"Urbanization of countryside education or achieving the goal that children can enter a school nearby are two opinions, the former requests for merging schools to let all countryside students receive urbanized education while the latter advocates remaining and constructing village schools as well as developing county boarding schools," said Wu Zhihui, the president of the Countryside Education Research Institute of the Northeast Normal University.

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