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New Funding for Rural Compulsory Education

China's central government has earmarked 13.5 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) to support the rural compulsory education for this spring term, announced the Ministry of Finance on Friday.

Earlier last month, the country allocated 8.6 billion yuan to provide free schoolbooks for rural students and a special fund of 2.14 billion yuan to restore the buildings in rural primary and middle schools.

Disaster-hit rural areas should have the priority to enjoy the special fund, according to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.

The fund should be delivered to disaster-stricken counties in 20 workdays.

Storms made 3.5 million square meters of school buildings unsafe for further use without repair. The ministry was concerned about the structural safety of schools in snow-stricken areas, said Jiang Peimin, director with the Ministry of Education (MOE) earlier last month.

Snow has forced more than 1,300 primary and middle schools in southern and central China to postpone the start of the new semester, affecting more than 280,000 school students, according to the MOE.

(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2008)

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