The central government has spent 13.44 billion yuan ($2.13 billion) this year on textbooks for all 130 million rural students enrolled in all grades of the country's nine-year compulsory education program, the Ministry of Finance said Monday.
Some 896 million yuan was added by the central government to this year's budget to ensure the full operation of the textbook recycling system in rural areas during the current semester, according to the ministry.
The additional amount will enable the full implementation of the new version of textbooks starting September, in an effort to accelerate reforms of basic education.
Since the fall semester of 2007, the central government has provided rural students across the country with free textbooks, a preferential policy that was followed by a textbook recycling system for some courses in the spring semester of 2008.
The central government began in 2009 to replace a certain percentage of the recycled textbooks every year in order to maintain their quality.
Urban and rural residents have long complained about the high cost of textbooks and supplementary books.
A notice by the National Development and Reform Commission in April stipulates that starting this fall semester, the central government will impose a price cap on books used by elementary and high school students.
The cap will help cut the price of most of these books by 40 to 50 percent, in an effort to alleviate the financial burden of parents and crack down on some publishers who make unlawful gains.
Some cities including Qingdao, Shandong Province and Hefei, Anhui Province have started to provide free textbook to urban students during the compulsory education period beginning this September, in a move to provide an overall free education for all students.
Global Times - Xinhua
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