Since the launch of reform and opening-up in 1978, China has embarked on a road of improving its economy and moving its people out of poverty.
To this end, “the first important thing is to get rid of ‘poverty’ in perceptions and thoughts”, as Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out.
Indeed, education is one of the most effective means for people to emerge from poverty. In recent years, Chinese governments at all levels have put great effort into improving education, especially in underdeveloped areas. Let’s take a look at the specific approaches to this cause.
Finding opportunities to talk to foreigners isn’t difficult in urban locations, but chances to do so in the countryside can be rare.
In the last few years, however, advancements in technology in China have made this easier. Take Gaopai Middle School in Huichang, Jiangxi for example. In 2019, China Daily and iTutor Group, an online English language education provider, launched a program called “dual-teacher classroom” in the school. With internet access, students can be exposed to a more authentic language-learning environment and even communicate with foreign teachers in the “cyber classrooms”. “It’s the first time for me to communicate directly with foreign teachers,” said Luo Jiahui, a Junior 3 student at the school. “The program lets me know English learning can be interesting and encourages me to work harder.”
The access to internet also helps students study during the COVID-19 Pandemic. “Amid the pandemic, online classes gave me the chance to continue learning from home, so that I didn’t fall behind my peers,” said Wang Qi, 14, a Junior 2 student at the school.
While there may be fierce competition for teaching positions in large cities, schools in poverty-stricken areas have suffered from a shortage of teachers. In order to solve this problem, the Chinese government has encouraged more college students to support education in the rural areas. Wu Hao, is one such student. After he graduated from Jiangxi Normal University, he learned that Gaopai Middle School in his hometown was in serious need of teachers. Wu decided to go back and became a teacher. Every week he spends about five hours traveling across 37 kilometers from his home to the school. His efforts don’t end in the classroom. Outside of school hours he visits children at home and tutors them.
“Wu Hao serves not only as a teacher but also a mentor in students’ lives,” noted China Youth Daily.
Providing financial aid
For many, senior high school is a natural progression after completing junior high. But for those who come from poverty-stricken families, this is not always the case.
Lei Jiayan is a student from Jiahe, a remote county in Zhuzhou, Hunan province. In 2019, when she was admitted to Jiahe No 1 Middle School, a local first-rate school, her family couldn’t celebrate the good news. Neither of Lei’s parents attended school. They have spent their lives working on the farmland.
Lei benefited from the government’s nine-year compulsory education program and finished her primary and middle school study. But the high tuition fee for the senior high school is a heavy burden for the family.
As they struggled to find a solution, the poverty-relief staff in her county helped Lei apply for financial aid and a major part of her tuition fee was exempted. “Thanks to the financial aid, I can continue my studying at school,” she told the news website Red Net.