A central Chinese city has pledged to equip all its schools with desks and chairs within two months after rural students there were reported to have carried their own furniture to schools in the latest exposure of China's rural-urban gap in education.
Officials from the city of Macheng in Hubei Province said a total of 9 million yuan ($1.4 million) would be invested in the renovation project that will cover all schools in the city.
The move came after media reports stated that 3,000 primary school students had to bring their own desks and chairs to start their new semester in the shabby rural schools.
Photos showing children and their parents carrying furniture to schools sparked an outcry on the Internet. Many netizens criticized the city government for ignoring education in rural areas.
Officials said the schools accommodating these students had been equipped with desks and chairs, and others will be refurnished within two months. The education gap in China has become a hot-button issue in recent years.
China's skewed urban-rural distribution of education resources has become a prominent issue in recent years.
Premier Wen Jiabao in a recent speech has called for greater efforts to promote balanced development in compulsory education by standardizing school construction, as well as bridging gaps in teacher qualifications and facilities in different schools.
"The focus should be on improving quality and promoting balanced development," he said, adding that efforts should be made to "run each school well and offer a good education to every child."