Stu­dents from eth­nic groups rely on univer­sity for bet­ter fu­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH -

NANNING — Ya Qiaoli is wait­ing ea­gerly for her univer­sity ad­mis­sion letter at her home in a moun­tain­ous vil­lage in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion, ever since she was told that she has been ad­mit­ted to Guangxi Univer­sity of Na­tion­al­i­ties.

For her, the letter is cru­cial. It means she can spend the next four years in Nanning, the re­gional cap­i­tal, study­ing fi­nance.

Ya scored 549 points out of 750 in June’s na­tional col­lege en­trance exam, bet­ter known as gaokao. The points guar­an­tee univer­sity ac­cep­tance, yet they are not enough for her to ap­ply for a good ma­jor.

“I was able to choose ei­ther a good univer­sity or a good ma­jor only after I got the bonus points for eth­nic stu­dents,” says Ya.

As a stu­dent from the Zhuang eth­nic group, Ya got 10 bonus points, ac­cord­ing to a na­tional pol­icy that al­lows eth­nic stu­dents to gain as many as 20 bonus gaokao points.

The pol­icy helps stu­dents of eth­nic groups, many from re­mote and im­pov­er­ished ar­eas with poor ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards, to re­duce their dis­ad­van­tage in the exam.

Ya stud­ies in the only high school in Feng­shan county, her home­town.

Lo­cated in Hechi city, it is a poverty-stricken county.

A to­tal of 1,133 stu­dents from her school took the gaokao this year, and about 60 per­cent were eth­nic stu­dents, mainly from the Zhuang and Yao eth­nic groups.

Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, Zhuang stu­dents can get 10 bonus points and Yao stu­dents can get 20.

After the re­cruit­ment process was fin­ished, 97.7 per­cent of stu­dents were ad­mit­ted to uni­ver­si­ties or ju­nior col­leges.

Luo Yingyang, the deputy prin­ci­pal of Feng­shan County High School, says: “The fig­ures have ob­vi­ously in­creased com­pared with 10 years ago as a re­sult of both im­proved ed­u­ca­tion and fa­vor­able poli­cies.”

In Leye county, a pover­tys­tricken county in Baise city of Guangxi, more than 20 per­cent of the 789 stu­dents tak­ing the gaokao this year were ad­mit­ted to uni­ver­si­ties, with most of the rest ad­mit­ted to vo­ca­tional col­leges.

Huang Bingzhong, the prin­ci­pal of Leye County High School, says that for many stu­dents whose fam­i­lies are poor, univer­sity is a means to come out of poverty.

“Send­ing a child to univer­sity or col­lege is the best way for a fam­ily to get out of the moun­tains,” says Huang.

China sees ed­u­ca­tion as key in its poverty al­le­vi­a­tion ef­forts, so it has launched fa­vor­able gaokao poli­cies for stu­dents from ru­ral and poor ar­eas.

In April, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion said that top uni­ver­si­ties would en­roll 63,000 stu­dents from un­der­de­vel­oped re­gions this year, about 3,000 more than in 2016.

Re­cruit­ing poor stu­dents into pro­vin­cial-level col­leges is ex­pected to grow by 10 per­cent this year.

Through this move in Guangxi, a to­tal of 2,507 stu­dents have been re­cruited by 154 uni­ver­si­ties, 300 more than in 2016.

Guangxi has a large eth­nic pop­u­la­tion, and it is also one of the least de­vel­oped re­gions, with 28 na­tional-level pover­tys­tricken coun­ties, in which 11 are eth­nic au­ton­o­mous coun­ties.

With the num­ber of schoolage chil­dren grow­ing, many poor coun­ties face a short­age of com­pe­tent teach­ers, funds and schools.

Luo says the school was de­signed to ac­com­mo­date a max­i­mum of 2,200 stu­dents, but now has nearly 3,500. The school lacks not only class­rooms but also other fa­cil­i­ties.

Low salaries also make it hard to re­tain teach­ers.

“Ev­ery year, sev­eral teach­ers re­sign, and it is very dif­fi­cult for us to hire new ones,” he says.

Leye County High School works with other schools so that stu­dents can have lessons given by teach­ers of these schools online.

Ya Qim­ing, an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cial in Donglan county, an­other poverty-stricken county in Hechi, says more fund­ing is needed to im­prove ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties such as build­ings in poor ar­eas.

“Teach­ers’ salaries and wel­fare should also be im­proved so that they stay,” he says.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Huayi Brothers Me­dia Corp founders Wang Zhongjun and Wang Zhon­glei (third and fourth from left) ap­pear along­side a pri­mary school stu­dent and prin­ci­pals in July in Bei­jing at the launch of their char­ity pro­gram on film ed­u­ca­tion for kids in poverty-stricken ar­eas.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A col­lege fresh­man from the Guangxi Zhuang au­ton­o­mous re­gion with a rel­a­tive ex­am­ine doc­u­ments to get loans for higher ed­u­ca­tion from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

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