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December 30, 2011

China Reviews Public Education

China's top lawmakers have begun reviewing the implementation of a 10-year education reform plan.

The plan stresses the importance of modernizing education and making it equally accessible to all the people in China.  The government issued guidelines for the implementation of the plan in July of last year.

Members of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, started hearings on the implementation Friday.  Vice Minister of Finance Zhang Shaochun noted that this year, the education budget was higher than last year.

"In the first 11 months of 2011, China's public budget on education is 1233.2 billion yuan, up 25.8 percent compared to the same period last year, 1.5 percentage points higher than the increase rate of financial expenditure," said Zhang.  "The proportion of educational financial expenditure in public financial expenditure has risen by 0.16 percentage point compared with the same period last year."

Education Minister Yuan Guiren said it was important to use the additional funds wisely and to focus on strengthening weak areas such as helping needy students, training quality teachers and making early education compulsory in rural areas.

"The funds should be focused on weak fields and on rural areas, poverty-stricken areas and regions inhabited by ethnic minority people," said Yuan.

The long-term plan also proposes developing kindergartens and narrowing gaps between schools.  It envisions turning China into an educated society through modern education by 2020.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.