Beijing Review presents stories of fighting poverty through education in rural China
Sudeshnar Sarkar, an editorial consultant with Beijing Review, came to know about Laiyuan, located in the city of Baoding in Hebei, the province adjoining Beijing, only at the fag-end of her decade-long stay in China. It is there that an experiment in education started, an initiative that is probably to rural education in China what the reform and opening up was for the Chinese economy in 1978.
Project Hope was started in the 1980s to ensure basic education across China's impoverished areas. By September 2019, the project built over 20,000 primary schools in poverty-stricken areas and helped 6 million students.
Today, Laiyuan has about 26 Project Hope schools.
In 2013, the county began to follow a 15-year free education policy, covering pre-school to high school in rural areas, with special attention given to control the number of dropouts. In 2019, the pre-school gross enrollment rate was 99.78 percent while primary and junior high school enrollment rate was 100 percent, according to the local government.
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