Reflecting the fact that most of China's population live in the countryside, 95.2 percent of all elementary schools, 87.6 percent of junior high schools and 71.5 percent of senior high schools are in rural areas, with 160 million students at the compulsory education stage. The 1995-2000 “National Project of Compulsory Education in Impoverished Areas” involved the allocation of 3.9 billion special funds from the central finance and 10 billion yuan raised by local governments to improve schooling condition in impoverished areas. In 2004, various special funds allocated by the central finance for compulsory education in rural areas reached 10 billion yuan, a 72.4 percent increase on the 2003 figure of 5.8 billion.
The China Agricultural Broadcast and Television School has nearly 3,000 branch schools and a teaching and administrative staff of 46,000. Using radio, television, satellite, network, audio and video materials, it has trained over 100 million person-times in applicable agricultural technologies and over 8 million persons for work in rural areas. After 20 years in development, it is the world's largest distance learning organ for rural area.
In a Ministry of Education program covering the next five years, the government will implement measures to realize its aims of nine-year compulsory education in China's western region and the basic elimination of young and middle-aged illiteracy and the popularization of high level, high quality nine-year compulsory education in east and central rural areas. At the same time, government will actively promote the development of modern distance learning for rural elementary and high schools, and further improve rural compulsory education management systems.