The Ministry of Education is planning to continue to increase college and university enrollment of students in rural and poor areas in 2017, with over 63,000 students from these areas to be admitted this year, 3,000 more than last year.
This marks the fourth increased enrollment targeting poor areas since the establishment of the current government, with an estimated more than 25,000 poor students recruited to study at key universities since 2013.
“Education fairness is the basis of social justice, so that every family’s children can have the opportunity to receive a better education,” Premier Li Keqiang stressed at a State Council executive meeting, while asking related departments to focus on how to promote education fairness when formulating the 13th Five-Year plan on education development.
“We need to meet people’s basic living needs, to provide the last resort for people to fall back on in case of special difficulty, and to promote social fairness,” Premier Li said at his first press conference in 2014, calling them three major tasks for the government.
He also said that the government needs to pay particular attention to education to ensure fairness at the very starting point.
Two months later, at a State Council executive meeting, he decided to expand the enrollment of poor rural students at top universities.
With a special program started in 2012, the nation’s top universities would recruit 10,000 students from registered poor counties.
As the program continues, the number of students who have benefited has risen from 10,000 to 63,000 this year.
“Policy dividends must benefit the most needy and poorest,” the Premier once said.
In the government work report this year, he also pledged to develop fair and high-quality education, helping more children realize their dreams.
Premier Li often recalled what he saw in an impoverished village in Guizhou province. “Although living in shabby conditions, people can still see hope, as more than 20 young people went to universities in the last two to three years. The younger generation in the village feel they have opportunities to move upwards. That is the hope of the village,” he said.
He stressed the importance of deepening reform to narrow gaps in educational resources between urban and rural areas, and in different regions and colleges.
Meanwhile, the Premier called for further investment in rural areas in China’s central and western regions, enabling more students with financial difficulties to receive better education.
“Key universities should further expand enrollment in rural areas, so that children from poor families can have a fair channel to go upwards,” the Premier added.