BEIJING, 20th November, 2015 (WAM) — Government investment in compulsory education has grown at an annual rate of 19.4 percent over the past decade an official with the Ministry of Finance said on Friday.

The public budget for compulsory education was 1.1993 trillion yuan (188 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014 while the figure for 2005 was 243.2 billion yuan, said Yu Weiping, vice Finance Minister, at a press conference, according to state news agency, Xinhua.

The spending is set to keep growing as China has just promised that rural students and children of migrant workers will soon be given the same subsidies as their urban counterparts.

According to a statement released after an executive meeting of the cabinet chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday, China will set a unified benchmark for public funds per student in rural and urban areas from 2016.

Currently, students from different parts of China are entitled to varying amounts of education-linked public subsidies, taking into account the cost of living and wage levels. Generally, urban areas get more public funds. A nationwide unified benchmark will put an end to that disparity.

All students covered by the compulsory education program will also have their tuition and textbook fees exempted from 2017, while the state will provide regular allowances for those from families with financial difficulties, Wednesday’s statement said.

It is estimated that the moves will cost central and local governments more than 15 billion yuan over the next two years.

China requires children to receive nine years of compulsory education, with the age range normally 6 to 15.