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 of the culinary institute of Linxia Modern Vocational School receive lessons from a local catering group. CHINA DAILY

Talent pipeline

Linxia is a small basin that is not blessed with large amounts of mineral resources or big manufacturing enterprises. However, the population density of Linxia city, the capital of the prefecture, is equivalent to that of Shanghai.

"We do have a demographic dividend, but there are no large enterprises to solve employment issues. Developing vocational education is basically a way for us to solve employment, agricultural and population issues," said Chen Yanhua, director of the vocational education department of the regional education bureau.

With tourism the pillar industry, Linxia has been actively developing its abundant cultural and natural resources.

Making its unique ethnic cuisine, for example, demands a large amount of manpower, which has been greatly supported by vocational training. Linxia Modern Vocational College and the prefecture's largest catering group, Baihua Jiayuan, jointly built a culinary institute in 2021 to train students and provide them with internships and business skills.

Chen said the training model offers more jobs for culinary graduates and related majors, attracts students through employment opportunities, and establishes a virtuous cycle of cooperation between schools and industries.

"It is not only basic training to do a job or ensuring employment upon graduation. Through this connection, we also aim to enhance the professionalism, standardization, and branding of the culinary industry," she said.

For years, Linxia has been exporting agricultural products such as freshly cut flowers to Central Asia and Europe. Last year, the college cooperated with the Linxia Baiyi Group, a major flower exporter, to establish the Baiyi Industry Academy.

By introducing corporate capital to majors including livestock, agriculture, forestry, and logistics, the college has become a talent pipeline for the agricultural industry.

Most of the students come from impoverished ethnic minority families, and many of them are left-behind children.

Apart from the college, there are seven vocational schools in Linxia, and some of them provide financial assistance for their students. Linxia Guoqiang Vocational Technical School, for example, offers comprehensive free education for students in their first three years, including waiving tuition, accommodation, transportation and other fees.

The number of students studying at vocational schools in Linxia increased from 8,200 at the end of 2018 to more than 15,000 at the end of 2023, according to the local education bureau.

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