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Long Train Trips to Schools Shortened

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Abudu Rezike, 17, a high school student from Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said the new train journey from his hometown to his school in Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, was now less tiring.

"Thanks to the special train for students, the whole trip from Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital city to Guangzhou took 62 hours, some 10 hours less than before. We did not feel as tired as on the trip last year," Rezike was quoted by South Metropolis Daily as saying. He arrived in the provincial capital Guangzhou on Sunday.

The Urumqi railway bureau said some 8,000 Xinjiang students had taken the five special direct trains from Aug 26 to Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

"With the increase of Xinjiang students entering high schools in these cities my bureau, in accordance with the requirement of the Ministry of Railways and the regional government, made great efforts to ensure safe, convenient and comfortable travel for them," Li Dongsheng, an official with the Xinjiang railway bureau, told China Daily on Monday.

Li said the bureau did a test run of a direct train in July to take the students back home, and it was successful, receiving a positive response.

In 2000, the central government started a scheme to allow ethnic minority students, mainly from farming and herding families, to study in schools in developed coastal cities.

With better education, more of these students studying in the eastern cities are able to enter universities. For Xinjiang, the enrollment rate this year was 59 percent.

So far, some 24,000 Xinjiang high school students have graduated or are studying in 50 high schools in 28 cities across the country.

The Xinjiang student affairs office said 5,518 students were enrolled in high schools, 518 more than last year, and the annual enrollment rate will be increased to 10,000 in five years' time.

(China Daily September 2, 2008)