Nearly 17.2 billion yuan (2.8 billion U.S. dollars) from lottery sales has been spent on building after-school activity venues for students since 2000, the Ministry of Education said Thursday. A total of 3,187 such venues had been built across the country by the end of 2013, and 12,000 youth centers will be constructed in rural areas by the end of 2015, the ministry said in a statement. Apart from construction investment, public lottery funds are also used to sponsor the training of after-school activity program faculty, it said. Welfare funds raised through the lottery as part of central finance have been spent on national social insurance compensation, the construction of activity venues for students, educational support, care for disabled people, medical treatment for serious illnesses, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, poverty relief efforts and cultural and legal aid. Official figures show that China's lottery sales topped 309.33 billion yuan in 2013, up 18.3 percent year on year.