BEIJING, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- China's education minister vowed on Thursday to promote educational equality and reduce regional, rural-urban and inter-school gaps in the field.
The central government's spending on education will reach 2.2 trillion yuan (350 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012, accounting for more than 4 percent of GDP this year, up 600 billion yuan year on year, said Minister of Education Yuan Guiren at a press conference.
The increase in educational funds from both central and local budgets will be used to promote educational equality as most of the money will be directed to poor and ethnic minority regions, according to Yuan.
The funds will also be used to train teachers, especially in rural areas, he said, adding that a special project to attract rural teachers has employed more than 110,000 teachers for more than 20,000 rural schools in 21 provincial-level regions in central and western China.
"Strict regulations have been imposed on procedures to reduce or merge compulsory education schools to ensure full engagement of local people and their right to monitor the decision-making process," Yuan said.
The minister detailed how financial aid provided to poor students has been raised. In 2010 and 2011, 156 million university, middle school and vocational school students nationwide were granted stipends totaling 183.68 billion yuan, a record high.
In order to ensure the schooling of rural migrants' children, the government has paid great attention to these "left-behind" kids and their educational issues.
Last year, the enrollment rate among children of rural migrant workers in public schools reached 79.4 percent. Another 10 percent attended schools in government-supported private schools, and another 3 percent studied in schools collectively run by migrant workers.
"They are migrants so the problem cannot be settled once and for all," Yuan noted.
"The problem has resulted from China's increasing rate of urbanization, which reached 51 percent last year," he said, adding the issue was universal as in other industrialized countries.
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