Why can China raise education level miraculously in poor areas?

Source:CCTV.com 08-06-21 04:55 Updated BJT
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By Fu Peiyue

Known to many for this photo themed, "I want to go to school", the girl has become the icon for the Project Hope, which aims to foster education for children and teenagers from poverty-stricken areas in China.

When the famous photo was shot in 1984, Su Minjuan was a 7-year-old girl from a farmer's family living in a poor and obscure little mountain village called Zhangwan in Anhui Province.

Carried out by the Chinese Communist Youth League led by the CPC (Communist Party of China), the Project Hope financially supported SU to fulfill her wish to "go to school". Graduating from the department of Financial Management, Anhui University in 2002, she is now a staff member at a provincial bank and Deputy Secretary of the Communist Youth League committee in East China's Anhui province.

SU's story has happened and is happening across China.

When the People's Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949, 80% of its population was illiterate, with no more than 20% of the school-age children entering schools. However, according to the seventh national census, only 2.67% of the population is illiterate while more than 218 million people have graduated from a college or university in 2020.

What lies behind the great improvement is the Chinese government's 70 years of endeavor to promote and invest in the country's education.

Enacting law

The endeavor to foster education in poor areas is, first of all, a legislative concern.

In 1986, China has enacted the Law on Compulsory Education, which plans a nine-year compulsory education free for all and emphasizes the mission to improve education in poverty-stricken areas. It only takes 22 years to become a reality. In 2008, China removed tuition and miscellaneous fees and universalized free nine-year compulsory education all school-aged children.

Building schools

Moreover, China's local governments have been busy building schools. Take Project Hope for an instance. From its launch in 1989 to 2019, the project has built 20,359 Hope Primary Schools and financially supported 6.17 million students struggling under poverty, helping to change the lives of millions.

64-year-old Zhang Guimei, having taught for over 30 years, is the headmaster of Huaping Girls' High School, which was founded in 2008 by the local government at Lijiang, a small town in southwest China, for girls living in poverty only. During the last 12 years, more than 1,800 girls have entered the university after their graduations from the school. Zhang is like their mother, who "flies" them to the outside world in change with her own youth and health; and the school, an embodiment of opportunities and hopes.

"Education may not be extremely important to some, but to these girls, a school is 100% vital." said Zhang.

When schools have been built, able and devoted teachers like Zhang Guimei remain available to those students in need as well.

As one of the governmental means to tackle this problem, in 2006, funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance, the "special post project" started to enroll new teachers at a large scale to teach in rural schools. From 2006 to 2019, the rate of university-graduate teachers in village primary schools has risen from 5% to 49%, with more than 420,000 of "special post teachers" backing 30 thousand schools in more than a thousand undeveloped towns in the Middle and the West.

Online education

In recent years, online education has served as another tool to promote equality in education. In the "Informatization of Education 2.0 Action Plan" published by the Ministry of Education in 2018, the development of information technology in schooling in poverty-stricken areas is encouraged for efficient targeted educational poverty alleviation. With more and more base stations covering nearly every corner of the country, students in rural villages can take a seat right next to their city peers in any online classroom.

By endeavoring to provide quality education for all, China spares no efforts to enable its people to realize every Chinese Dream.

Editor: zhangrui
08-06-21 04:55 BJT
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