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Scholar shares in Geneva China’s experiences in poverty reduction
update:June 26,2019
GENEVA, June 26, 2019 -- Poverty reduction through education has played a fundamental role in the Chinese miracle of lifting more than 700 million people from absolute poverty in the past 70 years, a Chinese scholar said in Geneva on Tuesday.

China's success in poverty reduction lies in basic education, vocational education and higher education, said Dr. Shang Haiming from the Human Rights Institute at Southwest University of Political Science and Law, in his speech here at the ongoing 41st regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Basic education to eliminate illiteracy and implement universal coverage of nine-year compulsory education has been very effective in poverty alleviation in China, Shang said, adding that China was one step ahead in targeting illiteracy way before 1960s, when the rest of the world began to pay attention.

In 1949, Shang said, more than 80 percent of China's total population of 540 million were illiterate, with an even higher ratio of over 95 percent in the vast rural areas, he said. Thanks to decades of literacy efforts, the illiterate population was reduced from 432 million to 55 million, or to 4.08 percent, by 2010, despite the growth in overall national population from 540 million in 1949 to 1.34 billion.

Meanwhile, the government-supported compulsory education has fundamentally elevated the overall educational level of the public, which has in turn largely advanced social equality and justice.

By 2018, net primary school enrollment rate in China had reached 99.91 percent, and the 88.3 percent gross enrolment ratio for high school in China has surpassed the 86.7 percent average for the world's middle- and high-income countries, the scholar noted.

What's more, China has started to implement a 15-year free education in ethnic minority regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang.

For all students undergoing compulsory education, textbooks are free and tuition and miscellaneous fees are exempted, while allowances are provided for boarders from poor rural families. Nutrition programs are offered so that rural students during the period of compulsory education could enjoy free lunch. Between 2011 and 2018 some 37 million rural students across China had benefited from the programs.

In addition, China has been offering free vocational education for children from poor families, and supporting rural labor force with vocational training, Shang said. By 2018, 80 percent of the students at vocational schools were from rural areas, while the rest 20 percent were mainly from low-income urban families, he added.

In the area of higher education, China has been working to ensure equal opportunity and access for students from poor families, by offering scholarships, grants, paid part-time jobs, student loans, and subsidies for poor students.

The eradication of poverty is the biggest challenge facing the world today. In the past 70 years, China has embarked on a road of poverty alleviation with its own features, and is willing to share its experiences with other countries to build a better world without poverty and want, Shang concluded.

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