Exemptions for urban schoolkids

By Wang Qian andWang Yaoqiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-19 13:50

CHANGSHA: A total of 870,000 primary and junior middle school students in urban areas of Hunan Province will be exempt from tuition fees from next semester, which starts on March 1, an official said on Friday.

Also, all rural students in compulsory education will be provided with free textbooks, Li Youzhi, director of the provincial department of finance, said.

"These are just two of the new measures to improve the provincial education scheme," Li said at a press conference.

The exemption program will cost the province about 90 million yuan ($12.4 million), he said.

The money will come from provincial and local finance departments, he said.

In addition, subsidies paid to primary students will be increased to 500 yuan this year, from 200 yuan last year, while those given to junior middle school students will rise to 750 yuan from 200 yuan.

The new measures reflect the central government's plan to popularize the nine-year compulsory education system.

The first compulsory education fee exemptions were introduced in 2006 to students from rural parts of western China. The policy was expanded last year to include those in central and eastern regions.

About 150 million primary and junior high school students across the country now benefit from the scheme.

Li said that 6,353 former dropouts returned to school in Hunan last year as a result of the financial support.

China has 25 million high school students, of which 16.86 million live in western and central regions. Last year, the Ministry of Finance launched a three-year plan to support rural education, with funding of 47 billion yuan.

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