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Jilin Earmarks 3.7 Bln Yuan for Rural Education

During the past five years, Jilin Province has made great efforts to support rural education by implementing compulsory education, improving school facilities and releasing subsidies totaling 3.7 billion yuan (US$493 million) to impoverished students.

In 2002 the local government began renovating dangerous buildings in primary and secondary schools. By the end of 2006, 1.464 billion yuan (US$195 million) had been invested toward construction of new school buildings, totaling 1.891 million square meters in floor space. In addition, the provincial government spent 915.8 million yuan (US$122 million) to either merge or close 2,940 rural schools with bad facilities, low education quality and limited enrollment. This redeployment of resources has contributed greatly to the improvement of school facilities and education quality in rural areas.

In the second half of 2004, financial departments established a special fund consisting of different levels to assist poor students. This new policy "exempts miscellaneous fees and book expenses, grants subsidy to boarding students". In the five semesters from 2004 to 2006, 194 million primary and secondary school students received awards totaling 370 million yuan (US$49.3 million).

Since 2007, the province has adopted a rural compulsory education expense guarantee system. Provincial authorities invested 860 million yuan (US$114.59 million) to waive tuition and extras fees for 2.32 million primary and secondary rural school students (including those in counties and townships, on farms and in timber yards) during their compulsory education period, to provide free textbooks to poor students and grant subsidies to cover student living costs. The fund was also used to support the public finance of the rural public schools, help them in a long-term maintenance of school classrooms and dormitories and ensure that teachers got paid. Excepting textbooks and exercise books costs as well as boarding fees, rural students in Jilin Province now don't have to pay any other fees. They are truly enjoying the real compulsory education.

(China Development Gateway by Xu Lin September 22, 2007)

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