Students from ethnic groups rely on university for better future
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.
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.
A college freshman from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region with a relative examine documents to get loans for higher education from the local government.