Ex-premier's book highlights education
Last Updated: 2013-11-01 08:10 | China Daily
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Former premier Wen Jiabao 's first book since leaving office was released on Thursday.

Wen Jiabao on Education includes 66 speeches, reports, letters and conversations from September 1995 to March 2013, when he stepped down as China's premier. It also includes 17 media articles and 50 pictures.

People's Publishing House and People's Education Press held a news conference in Beijing on Thursday to promote the book.

Ren Chao, vice-chairman of the People's Education Press, said that in March, Wen wrote, "This book is dedicated to children, to China's education system and to the future of the country."

The book went on sale in bookstores and online on Thursday. The paperback version costs 69 yuan ($11) and the hardback at 95 yuan.

"Over the past 10 years, the Chinese government has made great improvements to rural schools by increasing financial support," said Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute. "There are some good practices we should stick to and some deeper problems we should resolve."

According to a review of the Government Work Report from 2004 to 2013 on Wen's education reforms, which is included in the book, the administration worked extensively to improve compulsory education in rural areas, such as projects to educate illiterate young people, get rid of tuition fees and improve facilities and teachers' salaries.

"The reason that there was less disparity in regional education over the past decade is that the central government increased its fiscal spending for these projects," Xiong said.

To create more equality in education, he said, more reform, not just a growing budget, is needed.

Yuan Guilin, a professor of rural education at Beijing Normal University, said even more needs to be done.

"First, the urban-rural disparity in compulsory education has not narrowed greatly," he said.

In 2006, China provided free compulsory education in rural regions. Two years later, free compulsory education expanded to urban areas.

"The policy, however, did not differentiate rural areas from urban," Yuan said.

Another major problem is the discrimination against the children of migrant workers.

According to a report by the National Health and Family Planning Commission in September, China had a "floating population", a term defining people who live permanently in an area but have no hukou (residence permit), of about 236 million in 2012. That accounts for a sixth of the overall population and about 60 percent moved to cities with their children.

"Despite the administrative rules, there are no laws that ban schools from discriminating against the children of migrant workers, so parents and children have no legal basis to file a lawsuit against the school even if they are discriminated against," Yuan said.

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