BEIJING: China has recruited 1.48 million more full-time teachers for the country’s compulsory education over the past ten years, bringing the total number of such teachers to 10.57 million, statistics released by the Ministry of Education showed Tuesday. China now has 158 million students in 207,000 schools for the nine-year compulsory education. The compulsory-education retention rate reached 95.4 percent, up from 91.8 percent in 2012. China’s nine-year compulsory education includes six years of primary school and three years of junior secondary school, with free tuition. Over the period between 2012 and 2021, China’s compulsory education has achieved a balanced development at the county level based on full coverage, said Lyu Yugang, an official with the ministry, at a press conference. Lyu added that all students that dropped out due to financial reasons were identified and helped back to school timeously. The country has also focused on equal education rights for children with disabilities. In 2021, about 920,000 students were studying in the country’s special education institutions, up 142.8 percent from ten years earlier. A nutrition improvement program for rural students benefited 37 million children each year, helping the rate of relevant students passing the physical health tests increase from 70.3 percent in 2012 to 86.7 percent last year. Over the decade, all-level governments have invested more than 1 trillion yuan (more than 149 billion U.S. dollars) to close the gap between urban and rural school conditions and ensure all compulsory education schools have internet access.