The central government has set aside Yn6bn to support maintenance work on old and dangerous school buildings in China's central and western areas, China Daily said. The announcement was made at a national conference on rural education development held in September in Beijing. Another special fund would be used to exempt rural schoolchildren from tuition and textbook fees.
The conference heard that 8 per cent of China's rural population are illiterate and that low education standards have a huge impact on economic development in the countryside. At the opening ceremony, Premier Wen Jiabao said the government had set a target of making education universal by 2007.
Later, a UN human rights researcher on the right to education criticised China for spending too little on schools and for dis- surcriminating against poor migrant workers, reported AP. Katrina Tomasevski said the state was failing to provide schooling for children of rural workers who move to cities.