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Alarming school dropouts: 40% in some rural areas
Updated: 2004-06-14 15:28

A large percentage of middle school students in the some rural areas have dropped out of school, a recent survey has found.

The survey, covering 17 middle schools in the rural area in Northeast China, shows as high as 40% of the junior middle school students have discontinued their study, most of them are in the second year.

Junior high school is part of the country's nine-year compulsory education, and the rate of school dropouts permitted by the government is 3%.

A teacher with a county school in the northeastern China said that only 30 students remained prior to the entrance examination for senior high school after 80 students chose to quit schooling in the three years of junior high school.

In some remote schools, the survey found, about half quit school, while in some places nearing the cities, the dropout rate stands at around 20% to 30%. To hide this alarming dropout rate, some local officials asked the students back to sit in classrooms when inspectors from higher level of governments come.

Teachers say the main reason for loss of students lies in their weariness of study, deriving from the smothering pressure of entering the high school. In the second year, the students with slim chances of success either drop out of school or are forced by their parents to quit in order to make a living.

“One out of 10 is asked by their parents to discontinue, and the other nine simply don't like study and their parents can do nothing ", said a teacher surnamed Zhang in Shuangliao City, northeast China's Jilin Province.

The school is also to blame for the loss. "The exam-oriented education exerts great pressure on the children. The school fails to implement the policy of quality-oriented education in its teaching process, which sucks out the interest of study with little extracurricular activities," said a rural teacher surnamed Han.

Poor teaching facilities restrict their access to language labs, libraries, and computers, leaving the rural students with low motivations.

By the end of 2002, there were 65,600 middle schools across the nation with 66.87 million students. China implements a nine-year compulsory education, which includes three years of junior middle school education. At present, over 90% of the areas have practiced this compulsory education.

Wang Zhan, vice minister of the ministry of education, said more efforts should be made by all departments concerned to curb the dropout trend of students, and warned that otherwise the future of the nation will be undermined.

It is reported that more than 1 million students would have quitted schooling even if the dropout rate were controlled to the 3% criterion set by the government.

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