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Excessive rural school mergers halted

(CRI Online)

08:09, February 27, 2013

The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Tuesday announced at a press conference that the excessive merging of schools in rural areas had been halted.

Du Kewei, an official on elementary education from the ministry, said school restructuring has been halted in many places, including the provinces of Henan, Anhui, Jiangxi and Henan, as well as the Xinjiang Uygur and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions.

Gao Xuegui, another official from MOE, urged areas where the drop-out rate has rebounded as a result of school mergers to restore the closed schools.

Also at the press conference, Xu Tao, an official in charge of teacher management with the MOE, said 90 percent of "special post" teachers, or teachers assigned to underdeveloped rural areas, have chosen to keep their posts after the expiration of their contracts.

Xu said the central government has raised their salaries, allowed them to pursue master degrees while working and promised them stable jobs if they choose not to leave.

A report issued by the Beijing-based 21st Century Education Research Institute last year claimed that the primary school drop-out rate had rebounded to levels similar to those seen in the late 1990s, claiming that the increased drop-out rate was the result of the increased merging of rural schools.

The report's claims were later rejected by the MOE.

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