China's education minister vowed on Thursday to promote educational equity 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 of educational funds from both central and local budgets will be used to promote educational equity 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," he 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 totalling 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.
"The problem has resulted from China's increasing rate of urbanization, which reached 51 percent last year," Yuan said. Latest figures show the country has more than 250 million farmers-turned-workers currently employed in cities.
Authorities have made efforts to ensure migrants' children attend schools and college entrance exams in cities in which their parents are registered as working.
The ministry issued a document last week asking local authorities to guarantee migrants' children who have received schooling in cities in which their parents work sit the national college entrance examination there. Previous regulation ordered Chinese students to attend the national exam only in their household registration location.