China said Tuesday it will exempt primary and junior high school students in its rural west from tuition and other education expenses this year, pledging to implement similar policies in other areas starting 2007.
Other beneficial measures outlined in China's first major policy document for 2006 include free textbooks and partial payment of living expenses for students from impoverished families.
China's economic reform and opening-up drive have greatly boosted the development of coastal areas over the last 25 years, and in recent years China has invigorated its vast western inland areas.
China's nine-year compulsory education covers six years in primary school and three years in junior high school.
The policy document said China will foster better teams of rural teachers and encourage urban teachers to work part-time in the countryside and standardize schooling fees to ease the financial burden of farmers.
It called on local governments to raise the overall training and education of farmers. "To ensure the development of the countryside more capable farmers are urgently needed," the document said.