China / Society

Deepening reform helps change ordinary people's lives

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-02-26 14:06

BEIJING - For many kids born into poverty in China, the national college entrance examination offers a chance to change their lives: A degree means better job prospects and a more comfortable life.

Li Shuo's parents, who live in a small village in northeast China's Jilin Province, did not go to university. Due to poor health, Li's father transferred the rights to the family's farm land, while his mother was a house wife. They had always hoped that one day their son would go to university and become an engineer.

So when Li failed the entrance test in 2014, the future of the whole family, who live on an annual income of some $5,000 yuan, looked uncertain.

Li's head teacher stepped in to help the youngster, suggesting that he apply to universities through a special enrollment channel, which was designed for students from underprivileged families.

It was thanks to this that Li secured a place at Changchun University of Science and Technology. He was also informed that he would qualify for subsidized tuition fees.

Li is just one of the thousands of students to have benefitted from China's education reform. Ma Changjun, headmaster of Tongyu No. 1 High School in Jilin's Baicheng City, said, in recent years, special enrollment policies have quadrupled the number students from impoverished backgrounds being accepted by the country's most prestigious universities.

According to the Education Ministry, more than 69,000 students from poor families in the countryside enjoyed the preferential enrollment policy in 2014, compared with 10,000 in 2012.

Education reform is just one aspect of the wider drive to improve the lives of ordinary Chinese.

In 2014, the central leading group for comprehensively deepening reform, along with government agencies, laid out more than 370 reform measures, basically completing the 80 key tasks the leading group proposed at the start of the year.

In 2015, the pace accelerated, and reform covered more areas including the judicial system, finance and taxation, household registration, salary system of major state-owned enterprises to public hospitals, the military and soccer.

The best way to test if reform has achieved its aim is to check people's true feelings about the results, as put by Chinese President Xi Jinping, "making people have a sense of gain."

In Hepu Village of Anhui Province, Wang Shousen and his fellow villagers' lives have been changed by changes to the land ownership system.

Wang, 50, used to be a migrant worker. Now he rents over 4,000 mu (267 hectares) of land, thanks to a new regulation that allows farmers to rent their land to others.

The 1,000 villagers who rent their land to Wang now have more time to work for others, and are happy earning the extra money.

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