As school has been in session for the past three months for my peers and me, I find that the majority of us has been placed under a tremendous amount of stress. From AP Calculus to AP English to Physics Honors, we often find ourselves asking the same questions: Why did we do this to ourselves?, When will these matters ever play a part in our everyday lives?, and, my all-time favorite, What sleep?!
What we fail to recognize, however, is that we have been given such an amazing opportunity through acquiring a top-notch education from supportive teachers and parents. Unfortunately, this is not the case in other countries, such as China, where the lack of education is a prominent problem for many. Specifically in Gansu, China’s second poorest province, a stronger effort to increase investment in education and improve educational facilities is crucial to increase the amount of children who attend school.
In Gansu, education is a dominant factor in determining whether or not rural laborers have the capability to attain more profitable occupations outside of the farm. Unfortunately, children from the poorest households with the fewest amenities to support education or social welfare are the most at risk for an absence of education. Furthermore, the ones that are barely allowed to receive an education are thrown into schools with poor infrastructure and unqualified teachers. Now let me ask the question, does this sound fair? Is it justifiable that children who have no control over their economic backgrounds are forced to settle with an improper education?
Although this is still a major problem, steps have been taken to expand the accessibility of education to those who cannot attain it otherwise, regardless of the reason – travel restrictions, language barriers, limited transportation, or poverty. China’s reformation saw the decision of 1985, consisting of the requirement of a nine-year obligatory education, which rural areas financed through tuition and miscellaneous school fees. Additionally, the decision called for the increase in vocational instruction, reinforced educational leadership, promoted subsidies, and financed an overall reform by providing new resources.
In response to the education problem, the Gansu Basic Education Project set out to aid school development planning and teacher training. Over the course of sixteen years, it increased the average net enrollment of over 12%, with even higher rises for minority girls and children in obscure schools. In addition to this monumental accomplishment, the project’s most substantial impact was fostering a deeper understanding of the necessity to make an effort to reach the poorest families. Through enforcing changes for financing and special education needs, the Gansu Basic Education Project was anything but merely basic, for it rebuilt and renovated over 200 schools, while also distributing better books and materials for a more suitable education.
A second organization, the Southwest Basic Education Project, extends to a broader China. With goals similar to those of the Gansu Basic Education Project, this community has sponsored boarding for 220,000 children for over four years, especially girls from the poorest places since girls’ education is particularly deficient. Furthermore, they have bolstered national and provincial research into funding boarding subsidies and other relevant issues, such as poverty and social impact. This program has recognized that a valuable education comes from adept teachers; thus, they have improved the quality of leading educators and instated reforms to benefit the school inspection system, thereby supporting school development planning in even the poorest townships.
Although these amazing organizations have fought to advance and preserve education for all, the lack of education in China is still pervasive in the poorest regions, especially within Gansu. Until that can be alleviated, I hope none of us in America stop trying to give back to their communities. As for the rest of us high schoolers, I hope that the next time we crack open our calculus books and witness the tremendous load of work we must do, we don’t complain about the amount of difficult problems, but rather appreciate the fact that we have the sources to challenge ourselves and to gain a vast understanding of knowledge that others are incapable of receiving.
Ally Nguyen, EVSS Intern
Fremont, California, Grade 11
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