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China to raise education spending to 4% of GDP
Latest Updated by 2006-02-28 18:38:02
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China plans to increase education spending to four percent of GDP, from 2.79 percent, emphasizing that a well-educated population was "strategically important" to modernization.


The government also plans to complete the task of providing free nine-year compulsory education to all students in China in five years, Education Minister Zhou Ji told a news conference.

"Frankly speaking, the percentage of education among the GDP (gross domestic product) in China is not that high," Zhou said.


"In 2004, this figure was only 2.79 percent. Therefore we need to increase the input into education in the future."


Zhou said the government would approve at the national legislative session starting Sunday a new plan for China's economic development for the 2006-2010 period that will include the boost to education spending.


"It has been clearly identified in the 11th Five-Year Plan that the Chinese government will increase their input into education expenditure in the future and steadily raise this ratio to four percent," Zhou said.


He did not specify how long it will take to achieve this goal, but the Chinese government typically aims to achieve the goals it sets out in the plans within that five-year period.


Tuition will be eliminated in all rural schools within the next five years, leaving parents with only the responsibility to pay for their children's textbooks and personal school supplies, according to Zhou.


To make up for the lost income to schools from tuition payments, Zhou said the central and local governments would pour more money into schools.


They also plan to spend 218 billion yuan (US$27.25 billion) to help improve education in rural areas over the next five years.


Improving education is of "strategic importance," especially as the country faces limitations in resources and the environment, Zhou said.


"China has a huge population of 1.3 billion people. If this population is poorly qualified, they will become a heavy burden for economic development," Zhou said.


Editor: Yan

By: Source: China Daily Website
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