Model of the Times

East or West – The Best Driving Forces for an Educator are Love and Responsibility


As a well-known principal in the country, he refused an appointment with an annual salary of one million yuan after his retirement, and left his bustling and wealthy home city and family to work as the pro-bono principal of the only ethnic minority middle school in a remote mountainous region. Driven by love and responsibility, he is committed to poverty eradication through education. With a particular focus on moral education, he has kindled hope in the hearts of children and inspired them to pursue their dreams.

Taijiang County Ethnic Minority Middle School is located in the South-eastern part of Guizhou province – a poverty-stricken region which is mainly populated by Miao and Dong ethnic minorities. In 2016, this school welcomed a 63-year-old principal from Hangzhou, Chen Liqun, who has won wide acclaim from the local government and people ever since.

Chen used to be the principal of Hangzhou Xuejun High School in Zhejiang province, and he has worked as a principal for 30 years. “Love and responsibility” are the central tenets of his faith as an educator. By consistently putting them into action, he achieved a series of outstanding results: initiating the first Hongzhi class in Zhejiang province (a special class aimed at supporting promising students from poor backgrounds), and publishing over 10 books on moral education, especially ways to motivate students. Of these books, one was awarded first prize in an provincial evaluation of basic education research projects, while another was listed as one of the key research projects funded by the Ministry of Education.

Over the course of his career, Chen has led several schools to achieve recognised levels of excellence, making him famous for his work as a principal across the country. After retirement, he continued his mission in Taijiang county and brought fundamental changes to the local education sector in a short period. His many awards include being counted among the “top ten kindest teachers in Hangzhou”, the “ten most outstanding educators in China”, and the title of “principal with outstanding achievements in educational reform and innovation”.