Woman devoted to girls' education in the mountains

By Li Danqing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-07-03 16:11
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Zhang Guimei talks to a student at the Huaping High School for Girls in Huaping county in Lijiang, Southwest China's Yunnan province. [Photo/CCTV]

The turning point came in 2007. That year, Zhang was selected as a representative of the 17th CPC National Congress, and the local government issued a special grant for her to purchase some new clothes before she went to attend the meetings in Beijing. Instead she used the money to buy computers for her students.

At the meeting, a reporter noticed Zhang was wearing jeans with holes in them, and reported her story. Since then, Zhang and her dream to start a school for girls have drawn attention from the public.

Consequently, governments of Lijiang city and Huaping county allocated one million yuan, respectively, to construct a school, and the Huaping High School for Girls was officially opened in September 2008. Funds for school operations and salaries of teaching staff are also covered by the local government.

Zhang set a high academic standard for the school from the beginning. She asked teachers to ensure all graduates be admitted into colleges, regardless of their initial academic performances.

Difficulties soon followed. Many teachers considered Zhang's goal a mission impossible - the school did not set a minimum admission score when it enrolled the first batch of 100 students, and many students had a poor academic performance.

Coupled with the school's humble conditions, six months after it opened, nine out of its 17 teachers offered to resign, which nearly paralyzed all school operations.

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