Remote prefecture educates itself on ways to prosperity

Vocational school in Gansu province broadens horizons for ethnic minority students

By Shen Wendi,Ma Jingna and Xiao Xiangyi | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 07:37
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Students get scenario-based language training from Morteza. CHINA DAILY

A different school

Few higher education institutes in China, including foreign language universities, offer Persian as part of their curriculum, let alone a vocational school in a remote and underdeveloped region of Northwestern China.

But, Linxia is a special prefecture that requires different solutions.

Home to 41 ethnic minority groups that account for the majority of the population, the prefecture shook off poverty at the end of 2020 during China's poverty-alleviation efforts. However, it has always tried to build connections with the global community, whether in ancient times as a crucial trade hub on the historic Silk Road, or in modern times as it explores outside opportunities in the education field.

Built in 2015, Linxia Modern Vocational College is the first and only vocational college in the prefecture.

Su Hua, deputy director of the college, said it has developed rapidly in recent years, with the number of students and faculty members expending from 2,000 to 10,000. The college now offers 29 majors, including medical science, Persian and Arabic. "Boosted by strong policy support, vocational education is going through a golden period," she said.

As it forges its own education path, the prefecture has also found ways to help boost the prospects of students from ethnic groups, by addressing urgent social issues such as youth employment, sustainable economic growth, and cultural and environmental preservation.

Since 2020, with the support of the national Education Ministry, the province has striven to achieve a "skilled Gansu". Over the past three years, the provincial government has set out policy measures aimed at achieving a comprehensive and "world-class" vocational education system in the province.

"Our goal is to build a model vocational college for China's ethnic minority areas," Su said.

"Linxia prefecture has a built-in advantage for language cultivation," she said. "It used to be a stop on the ancient Silk Road, so people here are good at communication and business and are gifted in language learning."

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