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China to lift tuition for rural students in vocational schools

BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government planned to exempt needy rural students from paying the tuition in government-funded vocational schools, said a statement issued by the State Council here Wednesday.

The policy will be implemented step by step nationwide from autumn semester this year, said the statement issued after a State Council meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Schools will receive government subsidies to compensate their financial loss caused by the policy, the statement said.

They are also encouraged to work with enterprises to increase their revenue, it added.

Students who study in vocational programs related to agriculture will also enjoy the policy. In addition, the qualified students in private vocational schools will receive subsidies from the government though they will not be exempted from tuition.

This is another major move to ensure the equal access to education after the country canceled tuition and other fees in the nine-year compulsory education program (in primary and junior middle schools), the statement said.

Since 2007, the country has provided subsidies for vocational school students from rural areas, each 1,500-yuan (220 U.S. dollars) annually.

Now the program has covered 90 percent of vocational school students in their first and second year, the statement said.

In China, students can continue studying in high schools or go to vocational schools after they graduate from junior middle schools.

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