Boys outnumber girls when secondary students have to pay school fees
At the end of December, 20 young people from the United Nations Young Envoys Programme visited Anhui province.
Their destination, Shucheng county, 50 kilo metres from the provincial capital, Hefei, has a population of about 980,000.
Since 1992, the county has been listed as a poor region. In 1998, nearly 30,000 people in the area earned less than 800 yuan (HK$744) per year.
The envoys itinerary included observing SPPA projects in the towns of Luzhen and Ganhanhe, visits to primary and secondary schools in Luzhen, Tangshu and Hefei and a health centre in Shucheng, and a stay with a farming family in Bali village, near Tangshu.
A programme of nine years of free primary and lower secondary education was launched in the mainland in 1993.
Shucheng has 482 primary schools, 58 second ary schools, 11 of which include high schools, one teacher training school (primary school) and one teacher training institute for secondary teachers.
Tuition fees for high school are between 490 and 640 yuan per term. In Shucheng, 22,629 boys and 23,178 girls attend Secondary One to Three. However, only 7,358 boys and 3,081 girls study in high school, a boys to girls ratio of 2:1.
The five-day trip was organised by the United Nations Children's Fund and sponsored by the Hongkong Bank Foundation.