WUHAN, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- A central Chinese city has pledged to equip all its schools with desks and chairs in 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 on education.
Officials from the city of Macheng in Hubei Province said a total of 9 million yuan (1.4 mln U.S. dollars) would be invested in the renovation project that will cover all schools in the city.
Local officials and Communist party members have also been asked to donate money to contribute to the pool, officials said.
The move came after media reports stated that 3,000 primary school students in several villages had to bring their own desks and chairs to start their new semester in the shabby rural schools.
Photos showing the children and their parents carry wooden furniture as they walked to schools sparked an outcry on the Internet. Many netizens criticized the city government of ignoring education in the rural areas.
Officials said the schools accommodating the 3,000 student had been equipped with desks and chairs, and others in the city will be refurnished within two months.
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 for every child."