China opens hotline to help poor students

August 16th, 2008 - 10:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 16 (Xinhua) China has opened a 24-hour hotline to help poor students who can’t afford tuition fees in higher education institutes in a bid to tackle dropout rates. The hotline is open from Aug 15 to Sep 15, the ministry of education said on its website. The ministry will provide financial aid under a special programme to help poor students who can’t afford tuition fees in universities.

Parents and students can now call on the hotline for availing financial help. They can also lodge complaints against colleges that fail to implement the programme, the ministry said.

The ministry has pledged to stop dropouts due to poverty.

It said more funds would be earmarked to help students, mainly those from the May 12 quake hit regions. The earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale jolted the southwestern province of Sichuan, killing and wounding thousands in the aftermath.

China’s new academic secession starts around early September.

The ministry has printed six million booklets in June to publicise its financial aid programme for poor students and urged colleges to make them available to every student seeking admission.

To help the students, the government in the recent past offered scholarships, stipends, student loans and emergency financial allowances.

Students have also been offered campus work opportunities and free education in teachers’ colleges. Tuition fees have been slashed to help students from special groups, such as the disabled or ethnic minorities.

Last year, the government spent some 27.3 billion yuan (about $4 billion) in financial aid to poor students.

Some one-fifth of the 20 million students studying in the public and private universities last year were from poor backgrounds, according to an official data.

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