BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) -- China hopes to provide free vocational secondary education "in the near future" to boost development and better satisfy market demand, Education Minister Zhou Ji said Wednesday.
He did not give a detailed timetable, but Zhou said that "as a starting point, the government would offer free secondary vocational education to poor rural students and those who majored in agriculture-related subjects from this year."
The policy would be "gradually" applied to all students, he said in a report to the eighth session of the 11th National People's Congress Standing Committee for review.
The government has allocated 40 billion yuan (about 5.86 billion U.S. dollars) to subsidize poor students in secondary vocational schools since 2006, with 18 billion yuan from the central budget and 22 billion yuan from local governments, he said.
China had 14,767 secondary vocational schools with 20.56 million students in 2008.