Targeted poverty alleviation has been a nationwide focus in recent years in China. The government set 2020 as its 13th Five-Year Plan target year to realize a moderately prosperous society with the problem of poverty having been eradicated throughout the country.
As part of the plan, the Chinese Ministry of Education announced a guideline on February 27 that aims to improve education situation in poverty-stricken areas through allocating more educational resources in these areas, setting its goal as “no child in China would be prevented from attending school due to poverty by the year of 2020”.
China implements a nine-year compulsory education system. However, a report published on dwnews.com revealed that, by 2015, there were around 50 million children of school age not attending school, nearly 28 percent of the overall number supposed to be covered by the system.
According to the guideline, educational funds will be provided to support schools in poverty-stricken places including those in the Tibet and Xijiang Uygur autonomous regions, to improve local educational standards.
All the areas are asked to set up records on local student’s education situation, as a basis for more targeted and specific support both financially and in policy. Educational resources including school facilities and the number of teachers of each school in targeted areas will also be included in the records.
At the same time, students in these areas will enjoy preferential treatment, including priority access to local vocational schools, as well as to future internship positions and job recommendations. Teachers with higher qualifications will be hired to improve the educational standards in these areas.
According to the guidelines, one of the goals within the next two years is to make sure each township has at least one public kindergarten, each prefecture-level city has at least one vocational school of higher education, and those who are enrolled into vocational schools will receive an annual RMB 4,000 (USD 634) subsidy from the local government.
Earlier this year, a boy surnamed Wang from rural Yunan attracted global attention. He has to walk a 4.5 km mountainous track to school every day, even in temperatures of minus 9 degrees Celsius. The extreme shortage of educational resources in rural areas, a long-time problem in the Chinese educational field, was exposed to more nationwide attention and concern in the wake of Wang’s story being widely shared on Chinese social media.
“Though China has invested a good deal to build numerous well-equipped schools in some very remote villages, the more important thing is to cultivate people in these areas to fully realize the importance of education, other than mere financial support”, a researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences said.