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 majoring in Persian receive training in interpretation at Linxia Modern Vocational College in Linxia. CHINA DAILY

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Wang Mabin, one of Morteza's students, has benefited from the college's development over the years.

"The facilities and the campus environment have improved significantly since I came here," said the 19-year-old. "We have the most advanced translation and interpreting equipment in our class, as well as increasing overseas study opportunities."

Two years ago, he failed his high school entrance exam.

He then entered the "2+3 program" at the college, which allows him to study two years of secondary school then undertake three years of vocational education. "Were it not for this school, I would have had to learn to make a living like many youngsters my age did in the past," he said.

Under the nation's nine-year compulsory education policy, poor performances in the high school entrance exam, or gaokao, take away the opportunity for some junior students to attend college.

"College entrance exams still carry a lot of weight for Chinese parents. But the path is so narrow and crowded. Many good kids deserve a better life. Vocational education offers an alternative option," Wang said.

Ma Jinxiao, 20, has studied Persian for five years in the same program, which he said has equipped him not only with language skills, but built his self-confidence.

"I used to be very shy, but I love studying. The vibrant school life helped me open up," he said.

Ma has often been the top student in the class and wants to study abroad. He is due to graduate in June, but the earthquake, which damaged the family home, has changed his plans.

"As the youngest son, I need to stay by my parents' side and shoulder my responsibility," he said.

He has now decided to study teaching in the province's capital city, Lanzhou.

"My ambition is to improve people's educational levels in my hometown. Five years of study have made me see there's still a gap between here and more advanced areas," he said.

Gao Lei, 23, graduated from the vocational college in November, 2022, and has realized his goal to work as a professional translator in Iran. He encouraged the current crop of students to cherish their time at the school and lay a solid linguistic foundation.

"This is our goal — to tailor our education and help the students find their place in society," deputy director Su said. "The reform of vocational education is systematic work requiring longtime joint efforts."

Morteza starts to become emotional when he talks about how vocational training is changing the lives of his students. On the wall of his classroom is painted an inspirational sentence in both Persian and Chinese that reads "Language is the key to the world".

"I'm happy for them that they are walking out of this remote place toward a bigger world," he said.

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