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Education equality

Education equality is the foundation for more development opportunities for rural children in underdeveloped rural areas. It is an area that requires more attention from the government and society.

State Councilor Liu Yandong called for more educational resources for the underdeveloped central and western regions to realize education equality when she visited the poverty-stricken rural areas in Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region a week before Children’s Day.

Exempting rural children from tuition and other fees since 2007 has relieved many poor families of the burden of paying for the basic education of their children.

But despite all the benefits for rural parents, the relief has been far from enough to ensure their children get the education they are entitled to.

An investigation by the China Development Research Foundation shows that many poor children in underdeveloped regions suffer from malnutrition, as many children do not eat lunch because their schools are too far away from their homes and do not have canteen to provide meals. As a result, many have to stay hungry until they have dinner at home.

In March, 500 journalists and a dozen of news organizations initiated an online campaign to collect donations in order to provide these poor kids with a free lunch. Early this month, the China Social Welfare Education Foundation became involved and set up a special fund for the project, which has now raised more than 10 million yuan ($1.54 million).

A lunch costs 3 yuan and a kid needs 200 free meals a year in two semesters. The money collected till now can provide free lunch for nearly 20,000 children a year.

This single event has sent the message that there is a great potential that can be tapped to help poor children with their education.

Of course, realizing education equality for impoverished children is far more complicated than providing a free meal.

A survey of students and teachers in six counties in Gansu, Guizhou provinces and Ningxia Hui autonomous region in 2009 showed that the poor living and teaching conditions result in a drain of quality teachers and good students, who try their best to teach and study in township, county or even higher level schools where conditions are much better.

It is obviously unrealistic to expect that conditions will be improved overnight. But hopefully, both the central and local governments can learn something from the free lunch campaign and realize that there are many more ways to raise the efficiency of aid. Their roadmaps and detailed implementation plans to answer the state councilor’s call will make a great difference. 

(Editorial, China Daily)

(Asia News Network)
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