In a press conference held on July 26, the Ministry of Education (MOE) reviewed progress made by higher education institutions (HEIs) in reducing poverty. Along with several academic experts, Liu Changya, director-general of the Department of Development Planning, and Lei Chaozi, director-general of the Department of Science and Technology, addressed the press. Xu Mei, director-general of the Information Office and spokesperson for MOE, moderated the press conference.
Between 2012 and 2022, MOE tasked 44 universities of science and engineering with providing targeted assistance to 44 poor counties. Their efforts have greatly helped to reduce poverty and develop rural areas. “The universities invested more than 4.4 billion yuan in the poor counties and mobilized about 15 billion yuan in investment from 663 investors,” Liu said.
As part of eight years of poverty alleviation efforts as well as the rural revitalization campaign begun in 2020, a total of 75 universities have mobilized their faculty, research, and intellectual resources.
Support has been provided in four areas—capacity building in education, industrial development, healthcare, and consumer demand. For example, through volunteer teaching, teacher training and twinning partnerships, some 116,000 teachers at all levels of education have been trained over the last decade. In order to support local industries, especially farming, the universities have improved crop varieties and productivity, trained some 770,000 local agricultural technicians and facilitated the commercialization of 1,949 field research projects supervised by professor volunteers. Local health services have also been improved by dispatching doctors to these areas, donating medical equipment, and training nurses. In addition, to drive demand for local farm produce, an online e-commerce platform was launched, which has helped sell 4.4 billion yuan worth of agricultural products.
Using new development models and approaches, HEIs have carried out 102 projects over the last two years aimed at cultivating rural industries, talent, and culture-themed tourism.
Lei introduced the follow-up to the Action Plan on Technological Innovation by Higher Education Institutions for Rural Revitalization (2018-2022) launched in 2018, aimed at involving more HEIs in supporting rural development. According to Lei, over the last five years, participating HEIs have made tremendous strides in water-saving technology, circular agriculture and climate-smart practices in response to an urgent need to improve agricultural productivity and efficiency. More than 500 technology transfer centers and support service platforms have been established. In addition, over 170,000 volunteers have been deployed to assist field projects, while over 800 professor service centers have been established as interfaces for university-recipient-business collaboration. More than 100 international research cooperation platforms such as the Belt and Road Green Technological Innovation Alliance for Poverty Alleviation have also been established.