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Victories scored in province's crucial fight against poverty

By Yuan Shenggao ( China Daily )

Updated: 2018-03-09

The mountainous Southwest China province of Guizhou is considered by many to be the main battleground in China's crucial fight against poverty - but top officials and experts say major victories have been scored and many more achievements are to come.

According to the latest data, in the five years to December 2017 the number of people living below the poverty line in Guizhou fell by 6.7 million and the poverty rate decreased significantly, from 26.8 percent to 8 percent over the same period.

Despite that achievement, however, officials estimate that more than 2 million people still live below the national poverty line.

Experts say education is key to lifting people out of poverty.

Guizhou invested 331.5 billion yuan ($52.35 billion) in developing education since 2012, and a comprehensive educational assistance system has been set up gradually.

Before the new school year, officials in Puding county in the city of Anshun were tasked with briefing 17,886 poor households about how to take advantage of new progressive education policies that can help them.

These aim to make sure that their children will be able to attend school and change their futures through education, supported by tuition discounts, national grants and loans.

"Every year we insist on investigating and collecting information on students whose families have economic difficulties," said Liu Hui, director of the Center of Student Assistance Administration in Puding.

"According to their family conditions, we establish an information database, which greatly improves the work efficiency and the accuracy of the assistance."

Government and schools of the county have been actively raising funds to improve the catering conditions in schools following the implementation of the Nutrition Improvement Program for Rural Compulsory Students.

Since 2012, a total of 50 million yuan has been invested to build 44 new school canteens and to reconstruct old ones.

In 2013, the county was designated as a model by the China Development Research Foundation because of the achievements of its nutrition improvement program. Last year, more than 8 million yuan was invested to improve facilities at school canteens.

Yang Ming is a manager responsible for sales and production at Jinhe Agricultural Development and Investment Co Ltd, a company that signed a supply contract with school canteens in Puding.

"The nutrition improvement program can also promote the development of the agricultural industry and the income of impoverished farmers," Yang said.

The company has signed contracts with 49 households and cooperatives. More than 1,857 metric tons of meat, eggs and vegetables were sent to schools last year and 2,819 impoverished households benefited from it.

According to data provided to the assistance center, Puding county supported 180,000 impoverished students with more than 100 million yuan in funding in 2017.

In the past year, in the entire province of Guizhou a total of 4.7 million impoverished students were supported.

Officials said the Nutrition Improvement Program for Rural Compulsory Students has been fully implemented and has covered all rural areas in the province.

Wang Fengyou, former head of the Guizhou Provincial Department of Education, said during the two sessions of Guizhou's legislative and political advisory bodies in January that the province's education system still faced the problem of uneven standards and disparities between rural and urban schools.

"By 2018, Guizhou plans to take the lead in achieving a balanced education in rural areas, including 29 counties and the Gui'an New Area in southwestern China," he said.

Zhao Yandi contributed to the story.

Victories scored in province's crucial fight against poverty

(China Daily 03/09/2018 page18)

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