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Tibetan county offers 12 years of free education

Tibetan county offers 12 years of free education

Updated: 2012-03-13 12:48


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LANZHOU - A Tibetan county in Northwest China's Gansu province has promised 12 years of free education for all children from elementary through senior high school.

Starting from the spring semester, Tianzhu Tibetan autonomous county will waive tuition, lodging expenses and textbook fees for more than 5,600 senior high school students, said Yang Bingqiang, the county's deputy chief of education.

Therefore, the county has extended school children's free education period from nine to 12 years, he said. In most other parts of China, students get nine years of "compulsory education."

The county government will subsidize more than 11 million yuan ($1.74 million) annually to cover the expenses and grant each boarder student 1,000 yuan a year as a food allowance, said Yang.

"It's a huge amount for the impoverished county, but we're determined to improve education, which promises a better future for the children," said Yang.

Tianzhu is China's first Tibetan autonomous county. Tibetans account for about 32 percent of its population of 210,000.

"My father felt relieved that he would not need to pay tuition for me and my brother," said Drolung, 19, a second-year student at Tianzhu Senior High School for Nationalities. His brother is one year younger.

Prior to the fee exemptions, Drolung said his family had to pay about 5,000 yuan a year for their tuition, boarding expenses and textbooks. "That's about half of our family income."

Most of the 461 students at Drolung's school come from Tibetan herding families with low incomes, said Yan Tseten, a school official. "The exemption is undoubtedly a blessing for them all."