China will beef up its support for secondary vocational education by offering more students free schooling and improving the grant aid system, authorities vowed on Wednesday.
Urban students majoring in agriculture-related subjects or having financial difficulties and all rural students will be exempt from tuition fees at secondary vocational schools starting from the fall semester of 2012, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council, or China’s Cabinet, presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.
Currently, only agriculture-related majors and financially challenged students can enjoy tuition exemptions.
The government will also adjust the coverage of state student grants for secondary vocational schools to give more favor to those learning agricultural subjects or coming from needy families, said the statement.
Student grants will be provided for all rural students of secondary vocational schools in 11 particularly poor regions, Tibetan-inhabited areas and parts of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region mainly populated by Uygurs.
China has given 4.74 billion yuan (747.6 million U.S. dollars) to secondary vocational schools as compensation for tuition exemptions they offered to about 4 million students in total since 2009, the Ministry of Finance said in November last year.
During Wednesday’s meeting, authorities also urged prioritizing the development of public transport to reduce traffic jams and pollution.
The government will boost public transport by accelerating infrastructure construction, offering tax and electricity discounts and encouraging private investment, the statement said.
The meeting also passed a draft rule on regulating the practice of recalling defective automobiles.