Guangdong villagers get $280m aid
An estimated 7.7 million children in impoverished villages in Guangdong will get the chance to complete their schooling for free under a 300-million-yuan (HK$283 million) aid scheme announced by the provincial government last week.
Next month village children from families with annual incomes of under 1,500 yuan per person will be issued certificates for free education and exempted from paying various fees including the cost of textbooks, Xinhua said.
Although children are entitled to free primary and junior secondary schooling under China's compulsory education policy, they must still cover the cost of books, stationery and other incidental fees. According to a survey by the Guangdong Government, each rural primary school student pays on average 318 yuan every term, while secondary school students pay about 500 yuan.
The fees are a major factor in forcing many to drop out of school. Only 88.3 per cent of those enrolled in junior secondary school in 1997 completed their schooling, official figures show. Most who dropped out were from rural areas, and 40 per cent cited financial difficulties as the reason.
A scheme to assist university students is also being planned.