The government will provide free textbooks to all students in rural areas in nine-year compulsory education, Chinese State Councilor Chen Zhili said on Thursday.
The government has been providing free textbooks for poor rural students, and such a policy will be expanded to all the 150 million rural students in primary and junior high schools, said Chen at a national conference on compulsory education expenditure.
She urged local governments to make preparations for the new move and ensure enough fund to be allocated for the compulsory education.
China exempted rural students in western regions from compulsory education fees in 2006 and the exemption policy was expanded to the central and eastern regions in 2007.
And the government will exempt all students in urban areas from tuition fees in nine-year compulsory education from next year.
Chen also said the central government will increase educational input to increase accommodation subsidies for needy students and to repair the ramshackle classrooms in central and western areas.
China's Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Wednesday it would allocate a further 47 billion yuan (6.4 billion U.S. dollars) to support rural education in the next three years until 2009.
China has basically realized its educational goals in its western regions, according to Chen.
She said 368 of the 410 most impoverished counties in the western regions had accomplished their goals to provide nine years of compulsory education and to make all young and middle-aged people literate.
While the other 42 had failed to achieve their goals, they had made compulsory schooling from first to sixth grade available for children, said Chen. She asked local governments to give more support and to make more effort to help those counties catch up with their counterparts.
In 2004, the government launched a campaign where everyone living in the country's western regions would be able to receive compulsory schooling from first to ninth grades by 2007 and to make all young and middle-aged people literate.