Poverty-alleviation classes dedicated to girls
Xu Lihua, a girl whose name means beautiful flower in Chinese, comes from a family with extreme difficulty in Hainan Province. Her mother is blind, and when she was 14 years old she had to drop out of school because her father could no longer afford her tuition due to a work-related injury. Life seemed hopeless for the teenage girl, and she would have either got married or still been taking some odd jobs if she had not been given an opportunity to apply for a training program. The program became a turning point for many other poor Hainan girls like Xu in their lives.
“In July 2009, we created poverty-alleviation classes dedicated to girls, encouraging girls from poor families to come to school, where they can learn skills in a systematic way and find employment with what they have learnt. They can lead a decent life themselves and help their families get rid of poverty,” said Zhang Yisheng, principal of the Hainan Province Economical Technical School.
Taking into consideration their family situation, the school offers each student involved in the program a monthly allowance of 350 yuan in addition to free tuition. So poor girls like Xu Lihua can complete their vocational training without worrying too much about education costs and earn much higher income with required skills after graduation.
“I am helping to relieve some of the burden on my family and planning to save up to renovate our house in a couple of years. I have used my spare time to obtain a college degree and I’m preparing to seek further studies in university. I will work harder in the future,” said Xu.
To empower poor girls in Hainan and make education an approach to reducing poverty, local government, Hainan Province Economical Technical School and Hainan Women’s Federation are drawing a bigger picture.
“Within ten years, we plan to train 10,000 students through this program and offer help to 10,000 families by training the students into a skilled workforce with high integrity to become the backbone for rising out of poverty,” said Zhang.