China enhances efforts to build fairer education environment

Students of a vocational school in Yongnian District, Handan, north China's Hebei Province are having a class of preschool education, Nov. 26, 2020. (Photo by Hu Gaolei/People's Daily Online)

Education is a fundamental solution to the intergenerational transmission of poverty, and higher education remains a vital part of the solution.

According to China’s Ministry of Education, a total of 5.14 million registered impoverished students have received higher education since November 2012, and the number is growing annually.

“All of my three children are studying in universities, which was totally unimaginable in the past,” said a villager surnamed Molhar in Huangniba village, Liziping Township, Muli Tibetan Autonomous County of southwest China’s Sichuan Province. This is a result of China’s policy to reduce poverty with education, he added.

All the income of Molhar’s family comes from a 0.4-hectare walnut field and stock farming. Therefore, Molhar and his wife once worried about the tuition and living expenses of their children. “Thanks to the student-origin-based loans, our children were enrolled,” Molhar said.

They also applied for special grants for registered impoverished students and other types of relief funds, which covered most of their living expenses and significantly relived the economic burden of the family, Molhar added.

So far, China has established a comprehensive financial aid policy system for higher education which offers state scholarships and grants-in-aid, student loans, work-study programs, school-level scholarships and grants, subsidies and tuition exemption, so as to ensure that no student is deprived of education because of poverty.

In recent years, China has also worked to widen the accessibility to quality higher education in poor areas. Based on the actual development of rural and impoverished regions, China implements a special program that provides poor rural students with the chance to access top universities, and has built the program into a long-term mechanism. According to statistics, 117,000 students were involved in the program last year, up from 10,000 in 2012. A total of over 700,000 students from rural and poor areas have entered key universities through the program.

Meanwhile, China has also expanded the enrollment of higher vocational schools for better employment and poverty reduction. Vocational college enrollment had grown by 1.16 million in 2019, and by 1.57 million in 2020. By offering preferential policies in poor areas, more and more impoverished students are seeing the opportunity to receive higher vocational education.

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