Illiteracy and education inequality in China has become a subject of concern throughout the world, a UNESCO official has claimed.
"Although China has maintained strong progress toward universal adult literacy, its illiterate population is still one of the biggest in the world", said Tang Qian, Assistant Director-General for the education sector under the UNESCO.
Tang said that "wider education inequalities between rural and urban regions are restricting opportunities in China."
According to UNESCO report China, when gauged according to the numbers of its citizens who are illiterate adults, ranks eighth, The China Daily reports.
It is worst among ten sample countries selected from around the world. However, China's Education Minister Yuan Guiren said: "China has made rapid advances in cutting down the numbers of school drop-outs in recent years."
He told that about 80 percent of Chinese were illiterate in 1949, while the figure fell to less than 3.5 percent in 2010.
"The country also has topped the world in its number of people who have received higher education, which has increased about 265 times during the past 60 years," he said.ut according to experts in China, low quality of the schooling offered in many rural areas is making it difficult for students from such places to be admitted to universities.
The 21st Century Education Research Institute says that only one in five students at China's leading universities come from rural areas.
A senior official of Ministry of Education told that no official statistics are maintained to show the number of rural students studying in China's universities.