Zhang Shuo, Ding Yasong
As of the end of 2020, the number of dropouts during the nine-year compulsory education stage in China fell to 682 from over 600 000 in 2019, said data from the country's Ministry of Education (MOE).
Meanwhile, the number of dropouts from registered impoverished families had been reduced to zero, down from more than 200,000, according to the data.
The Chinese government considers education a fundamental task and has always given top priority to improving education.
Since 2012, China's government budgetary spending on education has maintained a proportion of over 4 percent in the country's GDP, and has increasingly leaned toward rural areas, border areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, old revolutionary base areas, and outlying and poverty-stricken regions.
"I like the big screen in our classroom. The teachers who give classes to us via the screen sing very well. Many students in urban areas take online classes together with us," said Long Xinyu, a primary school student in Huayuan county, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, central China's Hunan province, who is excited about Internet-based online courses.
So far, all primary and high schools in China have access to the Internet, while in 2012 only a quarter of them used the Internet.
The proportion of schools with multimedia classrooms in China has risen to 95.3 percent from 48 percent in 2012.
“I didn’t want to come here at first, and now I don’t want to leave,” said Li Hui, a college graduate who became a teacher at a primary school in Wangtuan township, Lixin county, east China's Anhui province. Li feels more content with her job as China has enhanced efforts to attract talents to rural areas.
With the support of local government, the school has built new teaching buildings, and teachers at the school have enjoyed higher salaries and better benefits, according to Li, who disclosed that they are also provided with dormitories.
In recent years, China has gradually nurtured a team of high-calibre village teachers that dedicate themselves to education in rural areas.
The country has recruited a total of 950,000 teachers for the compulsory education in rural areas, trained nearly 17 million teachers and principals for rural schools in the central and western regions under a national-level training program, provided subsidies for 1.27 million teachers from over 80,000 schools in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, and sent 190,000 volunteer teachers to schools in outlying and poverty-stricken regions, border areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, and old revolutionary base areas.
Latest data show that the overall quality of village teachers in China has significantly improved, as 51.6 percent of them have at least completed undergraduate education, and 44.7 percent have been awarded mid-level professional titles and above.
China has provided institutional guarantee for the realization of its goal that “no child is denied schooling due to financial difficulties”.
The country has built a student aid system with Chinese characteristics for students in stages from pre-school to postgraduate education. Under the system, it has provided financial support for students from impoverished families for 641 million times, basically ensuring aid for all students in need.
To help increase the income of residents in impoverished areas, universities and colleges in China have given full play to their characteristic and comprehensive resources, and brought advanced ideas, talents, technologies and experience to poor counties based on accurate grasp of their practical needs, achieving noticeable achievements.
Data suggest that 64 universities and colleges under the direct administration of the MOE have spent and introduced funds worth over 2.5 billion yuan (about $380 million) on targeted poverty alleviation in poor areas, trained 463,200 primary-level officials and technicians, and purchased and helped sell agricultural products worth about 2 billion yuan for impoverished regions.
They have provided training courses for 96,400 teachers in poor areas, implemented 1,949 scientific research projects, and drawn a total investment of 15.16 billion yuan from companies into poverty-stricken regions.
* This article was published in partnership with People’s Daily Online SA.