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Systematic efforts help ensure students finish school in Hezhang county by Liu Yizhou,May 18, 2020 Adjust font size:

Editors Notes: Fifty-two of China’s counties and 2,707 of its villages currently remain in poverty. The country’s poverty-stricken population is much smaller than it was in the past, but the people in this group are some of the poorest of the poor and are not easy to help out of poverty. Senior citizens, people with illnesses, and people with disabilities constitute 45.7 percent of the nation’s impoverished citizens at present, which can make poverty alleviation more difficult. What is the current annual plan for China’s impoverished counties? How can poverty reduction industries develop and consolidate? How can the problem of students dropping out of school be addressed? How can better social insurance be provided to impoverished people? How can cleaner water and safer housing be made available in rural areas? How can people with disabilities be better cared for? China's Poverty Reduction Online website publishes the stories of five officials who are currently engaged in poverty alleviation work in various impoverished counties in order to answer these questions and elucidate the process. The following is the third story in the series from Liu Jianping, Party secretary of Hezhang county in Bijie city, Guizhou province.


In recent years, efforts have been made to decrease the dropout rate in Hezhang county, Bijie city, Guizhou province and stop the intergenerational transmission of poverty. Last year alone, 106 students stopped attending school. The majority of them did so because they were tired of learning.


Why are they tired of learning? Let me give you an example. A student from Shuanghe village of Hezhen Yi and Miao township previously attended primary school in the village and then went to junior high in town but eventually dropped out. We investigated what went wrong and discovered that the child did not develop a good educational foundation in primary school. His teacher was in charge of several courses and was overworked, and pedagogic quality was inconsistent at the school, which made it difficult for the student to learn various fundamentals. His schoolwork felt more and more difficult for him when he got to junior high, he was not able to keep up with other students, and he felt tired of learning, which resulted in him eventually deciding to drop out.

Children who have been left behind while their parents work in other areas as migrant laborers may also lose interest in their studies. The phenomenon is another reason that some students drop out in addition to the weak conditions that are present in some rural schools.


Plans are in place that will make it possible for absolute poverty to become a thing of the past in China in 2020. Ensuring that everyone completes compulsory education is a difficult task, however, so it is necessary to work hard to decrease the dropout rate.


A dual responsibility system has been implemented in Hezhang based on the specific situation that it faces. One part involves the heads of townships, other members of township leadership, and township government staff, who respectively were responsible for addressing the issue at the township, village (community) and individual students levels, and their achievements would be associated with their annual performance assessments. In addition, a system involving seven officials assigned specially to the project has also been put in place in order to break various tasks down and make them more practicable.


This approach has proven to be working. The student from Shuanghe who abandoned his studies is a good example. A teacher and an official who works in the area visited him at his home and spent a lot of time with him. They told the boy that he can ask more questions if he does not understand something and that the teachers at his school are willing to teach him. They also explained that it would be difficult for the child to become employed when he gets older if he does not complete his education. The efforts that they made resulted in him eventually agreeing to re-enroll.


There is still a lot of work to be done, however. People involved with this kind of work have to continue keeping an eye on the students that return to school, especially at the start of a new semester. Teachers contact corresponding officers if pupils are missing, and they will locate them as soon as possible.


It is important to address the shortage of teachers of specific subjects, upgrade resources, and improve teaching structures in order to enhance the quality of instruction and reduce the dropout rate. We should also accelerate the construction of primary and junior high schools in townships and junior high schools and high schools in the county seat. Well-run primary schools that are located in villages should be maintained though, and blanket guidelines should not trump actual situations.


Ensuring that all children complete their education is a project that needs to be executed systematically. Persuading students to return to school is not the ultimate goal. Rather, it is best to make it possible for students to receive quality education and want to stay in school. We are trying to help the children in the county as much as we can so that no one is left behind.




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