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State Councilor Says Educational Goals in China's W Regions Accomplished

China has basically realized its educational goals in its western regions, State Councilor Chen Zhili said in Beijing on Thursday at a national meeting.

She said 368 of the 410 most impoverished counties in the western regions had accomplished their goals to provide nine years of compulsory education and to make all young and middle-aged people literate.

While the other 42 had failed to achieve their goals, they had made compulsory schooling from first to sixth grade available for children, said Chen. She asked local governments to offer more support and to make more effort to help those counties catch up with their counterparts.

In 2004, the government launched a campaign where everyone living in the country's western regions would be able to receive compulsory schooling from first to ninth grades by 2007 and to make all young and middle-aged people literate.

China's western regions are less economically developed compared with the country's affluent eastern and southern areas.

The central budget has allocated about 10 billion yuan (about US$1.33 billion) to build or expand 7,651 boarding schools in the region, enabling 1.95 million more students to study and 2.07 million to live on campus, Chen said.

Last year, China exempted students in rural areas of the west from compulsory educational fees. This year, all students have been exempted from the various fees pertaining to the nine-year compulsory education.

Both the central budget and local governments have put in a total of 11 billion yuan for the establishment of a distant-learning project that covers 360,000 rural middle and primary schools. It will allow more than 100 million students to share educational resources, Chen said.

Quality of teaching has also improved due to diversified training programs in recent years, she said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2007)

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