A poverty-stricken ethnic prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province will offer students 15 years of free education from 2016, authorities said Wednesday.
Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, where many families are grappling with abject poverty, will take the lead with 15 years of free education, from kindergarten through senior high school, according to a meeting held in the province.
In most parts of the country, children receive only nine years of free education.
Liangshan has more than 970,000 students and over 3,000 schools. An official with the prefecture's education bureau revealed that the quality of education, especially preschool education, has been lagged far behind other parts of the country due to poverty and remoteness.
In 2016, the prefecture will raise funds of 2.4 billion yuan (around 390 million U.S. dollars) to build 450 kindergartens at township level and child-care centers in 5,000 villages to improve preschool education, said Lin Shucheng, the party secretary of Liangshan.
Since 2010, Sichuan has allocated more than 13 billion yuan of education funds to the prefecture.