China's Education Minister Zhou Ji removed from his post

BEIJING, Nov 2 (Bernama) -- China's Education Minister Zhou Ji has been removed from his post, state media reported on Monday, ending a six-year term amid public dissatisfaction with the country's education system.

According to Xinhua news agency's report, the top legislative body the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which made the decision at the weekend, gave no reason for the move.

It is said that Zhou was due to retire in two years

During a session last year of China's largely ceremonial parliament, where motions are invariably carried unanimously, Zhou received more than 300 'no' votes out of more than 3,000 delegates in a vote to approve new cabinet members.

Yuan Guiren, Vice-Minister of Education and Former President of Beijing Normal University, was named as Zhou's sucessor.

China's education system faces many problems including under-funding of primary and secondary schools as well as poor standards in higher education.

Zhou has faced criticism for not coming up with results in tackling these issues.

State media also hinted at the possibility of Zhou's collusion in a bribery case in Wuhan University, the city where he was mayor for two years before being promoted to vice-minister of education in 2002.

China rarely sacks senior officials outright, normally reserving that punishment for those involved in large-scale corruption cases. In 2006, then-Shanghai Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu was fired for graft, and later jailed.

Zhou however has been transferred to become deputy Party chief at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the Xinhua news agency said.

Rotations among posts by Chinese officials do not always imply punishment, but Zhou's was accompanied by scathing commentary.

China's higher education system has expanded rapidly in the last few years, churning millions of under-qualified graduates who have had trouble finding the jobs they hoped for.

MySinchew 2009.11.02