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Plateau residents value education, urbanization
update:April 19,2022
XINING -- Qiao Shujuan's new home is just 2 km from her school. If the 12-year-old girl's family was still living in their old village, that journey to school would be around 60 km.
Qiao's hometown is Minzhu village, Minhe Hui and Tu autonomous county, in the city of Haidong, Northwest China's Qinghai province, where the average altitude is more than 4,000 meters. Now they have moved to an urban area within the same county, making life much easier.
"We wanted to provide better education for our children, so the family decided to buy a house elsewhere in the county," said Qiao Mingsheng, the father.
The senior Qiao receives dividends by leasing his farmland in the village and runs a small shop in town. "We get a bigger income now than we got by planting crops in the past," he said.
Sitting in the east of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the city of Haidong has nearly 200,000 hectares of cultivated land, making an average per capita area of 0.2 hectares.
Yuan Fude, a village official of Yangjia village in Haidong, said an increasing number of villagers have settled down in towns or cities in recent years, with children's education being the main reason for moving.
The situation is similar in the pastoral area.
Tazang, a herdsman from Laiyang village, Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture, is now taking care of 13 children from the village who are attending schools in the town.
Herders from 16 households in Laiyang village set up a cooperative and built bungalows for their children in the town. Some of them take care of the children in the town, some stay and graze sheep and cattle in the village, and others take part in the processing and selling of mutton and beef.
"In the past, children in the village dropped out of school at a very young age in order to help their families graze livestock. But now, more people attach importance to education for their next generation and send their children to schools in cities and towns. They also move there to take care of their children," said Tazang.
An increasing number of villagers deep in the mountains are moving to cities and towns for their children's education, which has also changed the pattern of urbanization on the plateau, said Liu Changyuan, Party chief of Haidong's Yaozhuang village, which has seen the majority of residents move to the town.
Census data shows that, by the end of 2020, the urban population of Qinghai Province was over 3.5 million, and the urbanization rate of permanent residence hit 60 percent, increasing by 41 percent and 15 percentage points, respectively, compared with the figure for a decade ago, which reflected the rapid development of the province's urbanization.
Although rural residents are flocking to cities and towns, those staying in the rural areas also see new opportunities.
"There is a lot of vacant farmland, so I rented land and started to develop sheep breeding on a large scale," said Zhao Longfa, a villager in Xiexia village.
A villager named Wei Wenhong also rents around 100 hectares of land to grow potatoes, forage grass, oats and beans.
"I earned more than 200,000 yuan (about $31,391) last year," Wei said, adding that he plans to expand the land to grow more vegetables and open a starch factory in the future.
Prior to engaging in agriculture on a large scale, Wei used to be a migrant worker, toiling in logistics, with an income of only around 60,000 yuan every year.
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