Poor students score top marks thanks to financial aid programs

By ZOU SHUO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-06-28 09:18
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Graduates from the University of International Business and Economics receive award from Jiang Qingzhe (middle), university Party chief, on June 18. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

Changing fate

When Shabu entered university, he said he could not speak standard Mandarin, was nervous when he spoke publicly, and did not know how to use a computer.

He went on to conquer these difficulties through the determination to improve himself and with the help of teachers and classmates, and enrolled at the same university to pursue postgraduate studies, receiving a master's degree in industrial engineering in 2019.

"I was not born resilient, but hardship has taught me to embrace life with as much positivity as I can," he said.

After graduation, he turned down an offer to work at the Postal Savings Bank of China in Beijing and instead, chose to work as a grassroots official in Sichuan's Zhaojue county, a mountainous region much like the one he is from.

Shabu said that thanks to the concerted poverty alleviation efforts led by the Communist Party of China, mountainous regions have undergone great development in recent years.

"However, six years in Beijing made me realize the gap between the regions and the big cities in terms of economic development, education and living standards. I am willing to contribute to further improving mountainous regions, and possibly to changing the fate of other students."

Xu Lingdan, a senior undergraduate student at Lanzhou University in Gansu province, said she was able to pursue higher education as a medical student thanks to the national financial aid system. Apart from the interest-free loans, she also receives 3,500 yuan in subsidies every year.

Born in a small village in Zigong city in Sichuan province, Xu's family fell into poverty after her grandfather was paralyzed.

"My parents always encouraged my younger brother and I to study hard, and said they would stop at nothing to make sure we got as much education as we wanted."

Xu ranked first among the 82 students in her major, and was recommended for postgraduate studies at the university without the need to take a test.

She plans to become a doctor after graduation and wants to help more patients like her grandfather.

"I am a perfect example of changing one's fate through education," she said. "If I had not worked hard and been enrolled at a good university, I would have been a migrant worker like many of my peers in the village."

Abla Tumur, 27, who comes from a village in Aksu, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, now works at the China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Ltd in Beijing.

He was enrolled to study at Guangdong Zhaoqing Middle School in 2011 as part of the Xinjiang Class Program.

Launched in 2000, the program sends high school students, especially members of ethnic groups like Uygurs and Kazaks, to schools in more developed regions, with the aim of providing easier access to quality education and greater opportunities.

He was later admitted to Lanzhou University in 2015, and graduated in 2019.

The program provides students with subsidies for meals and travel, and at Lanzhou University, Abla was also able to get subsidies and an interest-free loan.

"Both of my parents are farmers and without the favorable policies of the Party and the government, I would not have had the opportunity to leave my village and see the wider world," he said.

As a probationary CPC member, Abla is expected to become an official member in July, just as the Party celebrates its centenary.

About 5.14 million impoverished students have received higher education since 2012, providing millions of poor families with their first college-educated generation, according to the Ministry of Education.

Addressing an international symposium on poverty alleviation through education in March, Vice-Minister of Education, Tian Xuejun, said that encouraging education is the foundation of poverty eradication.

He added that to help increase the prosperity of impoverished villages, China has implemented targeted education assistance, vigorously supported the educational development of poor areas, established a sound financial-aid policy system for students from poor families, and promoted the development of vocational and adult education.

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