|Oct. 17, 2016 -- When Karma Namgyal turned his hands to the craft of silverware a year ago, he thought it would be a way to stop being a burden to his family.
For free tuition and one meal a day, he joined a program in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the northwestern province of Qinghai.
The three-year course is part of a local poverty relief program. Master craftsmen from across the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau were invited to pass on their skills to 60 students from poor backgrounds.
After one year of his raining, Namgyal, 21, now has high hopes for his new skill. "If everything goes well, I might start my own shop, or become a teacher, he said. "My two brothers will go to college, and my parents won't have to work so hard."
The school currently has 10 teachers. They are paid over one million yuan (about 150,000 U.S. dollars) annually, and this is covered by the local government. Each student's family gets an annual grant of around 3,000 dollars during the duration of the course, according to Nyima Tashi, head of Qumarleb County, where the school is based.
This is a new approach to poverty relief, rather than just offering money, materials and teaching skills are now on offer, chiming with the Chinese adage: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
Just one block away from the school lies a barbershop, it only recently opened but has already secured a positive reputation among locals, as all its services are free.
This is a similar program to the silverware course, 80 young people from families living under poverty line can learn to become barbers. Customers have their hair cut for free, while the trainees get hands on experience.
"Students here have more practice than those in my hometown," said Liu Bin, a teacher from Sichuan Province. "We also recommended 15 outstanding students to receive further training in more developed areas."
Besides craftsmen and barbering, Yushu's vocational courses cover driving, vehicle repair, cooking and dancing, all selected for locals' needs and with places for 875 trainees.
The prefecture has 30,571 people, or 35.3 percent of its population, who live under the poverty line, meaning they have a per capita net income of less than 446 dollars a year.
China plans to lift all of its poor population out of poverty by 2020, with efforts including job creation and relocation of poor people. There are still tens of millions of Chinese living under the national poverty line.