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Keys to China’s Poverty Alleviation Success - Poverty Alleviation through Education

An Opinion Editorial by the Chinese Ambassador to Maldives H.E. Zhang Lizhong on China's success in eradicating poverty

15 March 2021, MVT 11:45
Ms. Zhang Guimei with Chen Fayu, a 2012 graduate from the Huaping Girls’ High School, on July 4, 2020. Chen is a police officer now.
15 March 2021, MVT 11:45

In China’s Yunnan Province there exists a completely free girls’ high school named Huaping Girls' High School, which helps girls who cannot afford to continue their education.

The school's Principal, Zhang Guimei, is now a household name in China.

For over 40 years, Zhang has been devoted to the cause of education and poverty alleviation in the mountainous areas of Yunnan Province. During her teaching, she noticed girls absent and disappeared now and then in her class and later found those teenage girls, unable to pay school fees, dropped out of school, got married and fell into a cycle of poverty.

Zhang believed this situation needed to change.

"When a girl is educated, she can influence three generations."

She was fully aware of the importance of education to the entire life of rural children and that only schooling could change the fate of rural girls. She was determined to provide girls with the opportunity to change their fate.

In 2002, Zhang as a teacher in the middle school set out to set up a free high school for poor girls. After years of fundraising, her dream came true in 2008, when Huaping Girls' High School was built. She herself was appointed Principal and teacher.

Thereafter Zhang donated all her prize money, donations collected and most of her salary, totalling more than 1 million yuan to the school. Over the past 12 years, she has helped more than 1,600 girls realize their dreams of going to college.

In China, tens of thousands of educators, represented by Zhang, made up of the strongest force in the battlefield against poverty. They reached every poor village and every child in need of help, making education the most lasting and effective way to alleviate poverty, blocking the inter-generational transmission of poverty, and fulfilling the promise of "No Child Left Behind".

Education is a vital part of China's fight against poverty. China has adopted substantial measures to make up for the shortcomings in educational development in poor areas and has completely changed the educational landscape in these areas.

In poverty-stricken areas in China, a ledger system was established. Each spring and fall semester the student information will be double-checked to precisely position school-age students from poor families. More than 200,000 registered drop-out students have returned to school and millions of children from poor families are enjoying a fairer education opportunity. All these efforts are made to ensure that "no child from a poor family drops out of school".

In recent years, the central government has granted 2.15 billion yuan annually to train primary and secondary school teachers. As the overall level of rural teachers has improved, many poor areas have a contingent of teachers who would like to "stay and teach well".

China's Ministry of Education has given preferential support to students and schools in the compulsory education stage in the most difficult areas from the perspective of policies and financial projects.

Poverty Alleviation through Education in China

Data from the Ministry of Education show that the total amount of transfer payments from the central government to local governments for education has increased from 236.5 billion yuan in 2013 to 346.8 billion yuan in 2020, of which over 80 percent was utilized in central and western regions. In the same period, a total of 108,000 poorly established compulsory education schools in poor areas were improved, 760 poor counties passed the national field inspection on the county-level basic and balanced development of compulsory education, and 99.8 percent of the country's compulsory education schools met the basic requirements.

Today, China has put in place a student financial aid policy system covering education from preschoolers to post-graduates, public and private schools as well as students from poor families, and has basically achieved the goal of providing the aid needed.

Today, education in poverty-stricken areas have truly realized the transformation from helping one generation out of poverty to blocking the inter-generational transmission of poverty, and education has become a fundamental policy to get rid of poverty and realize common prosperity.

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