China Daily reporter:
Could you share some stories that you think are unforgettable from your years of work as a basic education teacher?
Kong Qingju, Deputy Director of Teaching Research Section, Education Bureau of Menyuan County, Qinghai Province:
First, thank you for your attention on education. Menyuan county, Qinghai province where I work and live is a western, minority-inhabited, plateau region. In the past, despite its well-known great natural beauty, it used to be isolated and poverty-stricken. It is therefore a major task for local government as well as teachers to bolster education and help lift people out of poverty.
As a teacher, I witnessed how this was achieved step by step over the past 30 years. There have been many memorable moments along the way. Years ago, a student on my class who always behaved well suddenly got very low scores in exams. I noticed that he was absent-minded in class and often stayed alone after class, lost in a trance. I talked with him, but he just told me that he wouldn’t come to school anymore, in tears. Shocked and anxious, I immediately went to his home to talk with his parents. Only then did I know that his father had passed away, leaving them in heavy debt. His jobless mother couldn’t afford the tuition fees for him and his two siblings.
On my way home, I felt very sorry for that poor family and decided to try my best to help them. Through my coordination with various government departments, the three kids were given exemption from tuition and other expenses and received financial help in accordance with a national policy for poor rural households. They also received support from some social welfare groups, and were finally able to continue their education.
Better family conditions are the key to relieve dropouts of their worries. Through concerted efforts, the mother of that student was offered a job as a social worker, and thanks to a shantytown renovation project, they moved into a new building.
This student is just one example. Since 2018, through the implementation of a series of poverty relief policies, a total of 125 dropouts in my county were able to return to school, and 2,292 people from disadvantaged families were offered jobs with a regular income – the necessary foundation to fund their children’s education.
Access to education for all is not enough. The cultivation of excellent talent calls for quality education. An education funding system was established in Qinghai province, allowing for the continuous improvement of school facilities and capacity-building of the teacher workforce. Now, the three kids of that family all went to college, one of whom even became a PhD student in Tsinghua University. Up to date, over 700 children from poor families in my county have received higher education, thus changing their lives and their families for the better.
As a teacher, I’m very excited to see the dramatic changes in the education of my hometown, and to see children come back to work and launch businesses after graduation. My hometown is no longer a deeply impoverished place as it was in olden days, and you can see people beaming with happiness everywhere.
My conclusion is that education is a fundamental solution to intergenerational transmission of poverty. As such, we should continue to improve the education system, so as to cultivate more and better talent for rural rejuvenation.