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Remote Education Sees Initial Success

To emphasize education for long-term dynamic growth and prosperity, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, a relatively underdeveloped area, will plunge an unprecedented 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) into a remote educational network for children.

The investment, half from the central government and half from local authorities, will be completed by 2007.

Shaanxi has used some 90 million yuan (US$10.8 million) of central government funds and 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) from local government coffers for the so-called Rural Remote Education Project (RREP). It will be carried out continuously to cover all rural middle and primary schools in Shaanxi through 2007, said Tian Peng, an official with the Shaanxi Provincial Education Bureau.

Initial achievements have been good, with 78 percent of primary schools and 68 percent of middle schools in 29 counties covered by the pilot project, Tian said.

In addition, the project has also established rural classes, which offer the same courses as taught on the remote educational system, in 75 percent of the primary and middle schools which have not been provided with full remote educational programs facilities in the pilot counties and districts, the official said.

The RREP is a nationwide promotional effort for cultural, economic and social development in China's vast rural regions.

Tian is in charge of the implementation of the project in Shaanxi, which aims to provide classrooms with CD players, satellite remote educational systems and computers at middle and primary schools.

"So far, 20.5 percent of rural middle and primary schools in Shaanxi are covered by this kind of remote educational system," Tian said.

An inspection group formed by experts from the State Development and Reform Commission and ministries of education and finance has praised the trial and demonstration projects in Shaanxi Province.

They inspected trial projects in Shaanxi's Taibai and Sanyuan counties on Monday, and said the project meets the State standards, according to Wang Zhuzhu, an expert of remote education and deputy director of the Central Audio-Visual Education Program Center.

And in September, another RREP demonstration project in Shaanxi also passed examination by the State expert inspection group

"The demonstration project covers 68 counties with 5,999 education sites," Tian said.

"And the projects not only benefit rural education, but also help promote rural economic and social development," Tian added.

Zhu Jingzhi, vice-governor of Shaanxi Province in charge of education, said the RREP's initial success in Shaanxi will help promote development of modernized education in rural areas, adding that education is one of the most effective ways to fight against poverty.

(China Daily December 23, 2004)

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