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Dropouts hit zero among impoverished

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2020-09-24 09:12
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Education officials attend a news conference held by the State Council Information Office on Sept 23, 2020. [Photo by Zou Shuo/]

The number of school dropouts from registered impoverished families in nine-year compulsory education has been reduced to zero as of Sept 15, down from 200,000 last year, a senior education official said on Wednesday.

The total number of dropouts in China's primary and junior high schools decreased from 600,000 last year to 2,419 as of Sept 15, Zheng Fuzhi, vice-minister of education, said at a news conference at the State Council Information Office.

"The government has established specific records on all dropouts, and we aim to further reduce the number of the remaining dropouts to single digits as access to good education is one of the most fundamental means to get out of poverty," he said.

China has exempted tuition and textbook fees for all primary and junior high school students and offered financial aid to impoverished students, he said.

The country offered 212 billion yuan ($31.3 billion) in financial aid to 106 million students in all levels of education last year, an increase of almost 90 percent from 2012, according to the ministry.

Through various policy measures, the country has made sure that no student will drop out due to poverty.

In the meanwhile, low interest in learning, early marriage and childbearing, religious beliefs and disabilities are the major causes of school dropouts, according to Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry's Department of Basic Education.

More work is needed to prevent these students from dropping out, which requires a concerted effort from government departments, families and society as a whole, Zheng said.

To prevent cheating in their reports of the number of dropouts, heads of local education authorities are responsible for verifying the data, and the ministry has double checked the results, Lyu said.

For places that have shown significant improvement in reducing the number of dropouts, the ministry has sent experts and officials to students' homes and schools to verify their situations to ensure the accuracy of the numbers, he said.

Special arrangements have been made for dropouts who have returned to schools to prevent them from dropping out again, such as offering psychological counseling, grouping them into separate classes and providing vocational training for older students, Zheng said.

In the past, teachers tended to give more attention to students who showed good academic performance. They should change such mentality and offer more guidance and care to students who are having difficulty learning so that they will not give up on their studies, he said.

As more impoverished students have access to compulsory education, the government should strive to enable more students to attend high schools and universities so that they can have better chances to obtain good jobs after graduation and escape poverty, Zheng added.

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