BEIJING, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- The number of dropouts in the nine-year compulsory education stage in China had fallen to 2,419 as of Sept. 15, down from around 600,000 in 2019, an official with China's Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Wednesday.
The net enrolment rate for primary education, the proportion of primary school students in the total age group population, was 99.94 percent in 2019, Vice Education Minister Zheng Fuzhi said at a press conference.
Some school-age children are unable to attend school this year mostly due to physical challenges, Zheng said, noting that tailor-made education services are being provided in their homes.
China has effectively ensured that no student will drop out of school because of poverty by offering financial aid to students from impoverished households, exempting all students from tuition and fees, and providing subsidies for nutritious meals for about 40 million rural children every year, Zheng said.
In 2019 alone, a total of 212.6 billion yuan (about 31.3 billion U.S. dollars) of financial aid has been offered to students from poor families. About 80 percent of funds for basic education, ranging from preschool education to junior high school education, went to the country's central and western regions, data from the MOE showed.
Zheng noted that conditions in rural schools have been improved, with 221 million square meters of school buildings built or renovated between 2013 and 2019.
In recent years, about 950,000 teachers have been recruited to work at 30,000 primary and secondary schools in around 1,000 impoverished counties to raise the quality of education in less developed areas, he said.
With the joint efforts of the ministries of education and finance, China must establish a long-term system and mechanism to ensure that teachers' salaries are not lower than those of civil servants, according to Zheng.
The cultivation of high-caliber teachers remains the top priority when it comes to improving the quality of the country's compulsory education, Zheng added.
The main problem facing poor areas is that the number of qualified teachers is insufficient, said Zheng.
At present, China carries out a "targeted training" program, which is to enable colleges and universities, especially normal colleges and universities, to train teachers for poor areas, said Zheng, adding that around 45,000 government-funded normal university students teach in rural schools every year.
In addition, China carries out a special national training plan for teachers with the central government allocating about 2 billion yuan every year to train primary and secondary school teachers. Enditem