Education Comes First in Poverty Alleviation
China Today (English)|October 2020
IT’s a misty morning in late August at the remote Jiebanada Village. Six-year-old Jineng Xiaofei is already up, washing and having breakfast. As the sun rises and burns off the mist, his mother checks that he’s ready, and the two of them walk hand in hand to the village kindergarten.
WEN QING

“Clap your hands. Wash them often...” Xiaofei and his classmates sing a nursery rhyme each day at the beginning of their class, and it is clear by the smiles on their faces that the children are all happy to be in school.

The village is located in Zhaojue County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, the county with the largest Yi ethnic group community in China. It is also among those counties that have not yet been lifted out of poverty in Sichuan. Due to the lack of regular transportation, geographical remoteness, and lack of educational resources, the local people have not had many opportunities to improve their livelihoods, leaving them in the poverty trap.

With the implementation of poverty alleviation plans, the Liangshan prefecture has realized that poverty alleviation can only be achieved by improving education. So they launched a “Preschoolers Learn Mandarin” project, aimed at helping children like Xiaofei learn Mandarin, or standard Chinese, to lay a solid language foundation for their future.

Preschoolers Learn Mandarin

“Before coming to school, Xiaofei could hardly speak any Mandarin, but now he knows it so well that sometimes he offers to teach me at home,” said his mother Azhi Wuji.

In Liangshan, the Yi people speak their own language and children like Xiaofei’s brother Jineng Wuhan, only started learning Mandarin after he entered primary school. Wuha is nine years old and now in second grade. His mother is disappointed with his academic performance.

Unable to understand or speak Mandarin, Wuha could not follow what the teacher was saying until the second grade. This led to his lack of interest in classes and subsequent poor grades. “I am worried,” said his mother.

Many Yi children have the same experience. Their poor mandarin skills mean they lag behind in their education, which can have a knock-on effect later in life by impacting their job prospects.

Wuji understands the problem firsthand. “When I went out to look for a job in other regions, I couldn’t understand what people were saying and they couldn't understand me. It was very frustrating,” she said. For this reason, she is determined that her children should speak Mandarin well.

Pre-school education has become an important way to stop poverty from spreading to the next generation in Liangshan. In May 2018, Liangshan Prefecture launched the pilot project “Preschoolers Learn Mandarin” establishing 2,724 village kindergartens, including one in Jiebanada Village. A total of 112,800 preschoolers went to Mandarin classes. Xiaofei is one of them.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM CHINA TODAY (ENGLISH)View All

A City with Vision for the Future

LOCATED on the edge of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at one of the farthest points in China from the sea, stands a city that began to embrace its great economic takeoff just 10 years ago.

5 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

Setting out on the Great Rejuvenation

THE centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was marked by a grand gathering held on July 1 at Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square.

10+ mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

A Similar History Has United Us

— Interview with Carlos Miguel Pereira, Ambassador of Cuba to China

10+ mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

The CPC's 100 Years of “Routine Miracles”

AT a grand ceremony commemorating the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) at Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square on July 1, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, solemnly declared the completion of building China into a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the country’s first centenary goal.

4 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

An Open Xinjiang with Multi-Ethnic Beliefs

SINCE ancient times, Xinjiang has been a region where ethnic groups live together, religious beliefs are diversified, and many cultures coexist. Primitive religion and Shamanism were initially prevalent in the region.

5 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

Xinjiang in My Eyes

ON May 24, 2021, I boarded a flight to Urumqi from Beijing with a group of Chinese and foreign journalists to learn more about Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a vast territory that is home to many ethnic groups and diverse cultures. The visit has left me with lasting memories and a deeper understanding of the people and the region as a whole.

6 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

Stability and Development Are the Strongest Evidences of Human Rights

OVER the past months hostile elements in certain Western countries have trumped-up charges against China concerning human rights in Xinjiang, spreading lies about “forced labor,” “genocide,” and “religious oppression” in the region.

6 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

BRI Nexus Promoting Multilateralism in a Post-Pandemic World

BORN of centuries-long interactions between China and other civilizations along the ancient Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) appears as the quintessential manifestation of multilateralism on the world stage since the Second World War which was, sad to say, one of quite a different kind.

4 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

Tourism Boosts Rural Revitalization in Ili

THEY say you never know how big China is until you come to Xinjiang, and never know how beautiful Xinjiang is until you come to Ili.

6 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021

Xinjiang's Cotton Industry Gets Smart

LOCATED in the northwest of China, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region boasts long hours of sunshine and ample water for irrigation — making the region geographically ideal for growing cotton. Cotton grown in Xinjiang, which has good coloration and long fiber, is favored in both domestic and foreign markets.

4 mins read
China Today (English)
August 2021
RELATED STORIES

MY LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH LANDSCAPES

My relationship with landscapes is one of a love-hate nature.

3 mins read
Lens Magazine
February 2021

Wild Wild West of Sichuan in China

Exploring Tibet had always been on my bucket list of travel documentary project. In 2018, I had the opportunity to visit Tibet, and it was the most incredible travel experience.

6 mins read
Lens Magazine
October 2020

Fertile Fields

Best known as the home of pandas, the business scene in Chengdu is anything but black and white

7 mins read
Business Traveler
February 2020

Rising Again

The former acolyte of Andre Chiang and the maverick behind Sichuan Moon, the golden path of Zor Tan has him reincarnated as the chef-partner of fine dining restaurant, Born.

3 mins read
MEN 'S FOLIO Singapore
April 2022

Elevated Classics Kenneth By With A Modern Touch

Expect refreshing interpretations of Cantonese dishes, thanks to Si Chuan Dou Hua’s new executive Cantonese chef Hoo Chee Keong.

2 mins read
Epicure Magazine
August - September 2021

Elevated Classics With A Modern Touch

Expect refreshing interpretations of Cantonese dishes, thanks to Si Chuan Dou Hua’s new executive Cantonese chef Hoo Chee Keong.

2 mins read
Epicure Magazine
August - September 2021

The Perfect Journey

Not one to be afraid of change, culinary prodigy turned perfectionist chef André Chiang’s definition of success lies not in the number of stars and accolades he earns. Rather, for him, the measure of success lies in how his legacy of Sichuan cuisine is carried forward

6 mins read
Epicure Magazine
April - May 2021

The Rebirth Of Min Jiang

A new chapter begins for Min Jiang, a long-standing restaurant much-lauded for its award-winning Cantonese and Sichuan cuisines and exceptional service standards since 1982.

2 mins read
Epicure Magazine
December - January 2021

The Food of Sichuan by FUCHSIA DUNLOP BLOOMSBURY

IN 1825, THE CELEBRATED French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote in his Physiology of Taste: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

2 mins read
Outlook Traveller
November 2020

New Lease on Life

Previously impoverished Yi ethnic minority benefits from income-generating initiatives

4 mins read
China Africa (English)
November 2020