BEIJING -- China must give rural residents broader access to education and training to support agriculture and increase farmers' employment, said a political advisor Monday.
The government should make it a fundamental task to improve the modern farming techniques and non-farm job skills of the rural population, whose "scientific and cultural levels are relatively low," said Wen Simei, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League, a non-communist party.
A Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) survey shows Chinese farmers each have received 7.8 years of education on average while more than 70 percent of them have only primary or junior high school education.
Among the rural workers leaving home for urban jobs in the first half of 2007, only 19.7 percent had been trained, Wen, also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, cited MOA figures as saying.
Professional skill training can facilitate the transfer of labor force from agriculture to non-farm sectors and help secure stable jobs for the migrant workers, Wen said in a speech to the annual session of the top advisory body.
He advised increasing government spending for that purpose, which he said will do more good to farmers than subsidies on their income or agricultural production.
More money is needed in vocational training for farmers and information network building in rural areas, said Wen.
As waning foreign demand battered coastal exporters, China has seen about 20 million out of 130 million migrant workers returning to their rural homes without jobs.