China aims to send 10m volunteers for rural services

By Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/11 22:18:40

Nation aims to send 10 million volunteers

College students go to Deqing county, East China's Zhejiang Province, to spread water-related knowledge in March. Photo: IC

China plans to mobilize more than 10 million vocational school and university students as volunteers to participate in the cultural, technological and medical development of rural areas by 2022, a move that observers and organizers said is expected to bring new economic vitality to villages and contribute to the Chinese government's agenda of poverty reduction.

As part of the plan to involve young generations in the regeneration of the countryside, China will organize and guide the young volunteers to work in rural areas, especially in old revolutionary base areas, regions of extreme poverty and areas where ethnic minorities live, according to a guideline issued by China's Communist Youth League (CYL) recently. 

The young students are expected to provide know-how to support industrial development, rural governance, technological breakthroughs and environmental protection, read the guideline.

Zhao Yue, a spokesperson for the CYL branch at Tianjin University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the plan will inject new impetus into China's rural economy, as well-educated young people could play a key role in bridging knowledge gaps between urban and rural areas and creating new development models, unleashing the countryside's growth potential. 

Tianjin University has launched programs to send students, mostly in their freshman and sophomore years, to rural areas for "social practice" during recent summer vacations. The program now covers more than 90 percent of the university's undergraduates and supplies 4,000 personnel to China's rural areas every year. To better promote the guideline, the university also plans to link the students' "social practice" in villages to their academic performance. 

In a social practice that targets poverty alleviation, young students, by utilizing their knowledge in the internet and digital economy, have helped people in Dangchang, a poor village in Northwest China's Gansu Province, to open online shops that sell handicrafts and local specialties to consumers across the country, Zhao said. The program yielded a profit of over 80,000 yuan ($11,911) last year.

In another case, professors and students from the Tourism School of Sun Yat-sen University launched a tourism development plan and set up a local tourism company for Azhe, a poor village in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, an employee from Sun Yat-sen University told the Global Times. The project earned 155,700 yuan in March after a month of operation.

In the long term, young students will also reshape and transform the mode of rural production, according to an industry insider surnamed Ma. For example, "more modern technologies such as drones will be deployed for irrigation."

In addition to spurring economic growth, young Chinese students are also a major driving force in "promoting cultural and spiritual civilization" in rural regions, according to Zhao. 

Zhao said that students from Tianjin University, during their summer vacations, have held lessons to teach rural residents and factory workers about the theories and spirits of the 19th Party Congress.

To better inspire social values in rural regions, they decorated the walls in Fujia village, North China's Tianjin Municipality, with paintings that illustrated China's core socialist values.

Educational insiders said that Chinese authorities, amid the goal of rural regeneration, are tackling the problem of resource imbalances between urban and rural areas with a systematic approach, as reflected by the recent guideline. 

For decades, Chinese urban areas prospered partly with "blood" from rural areas, an urbanization process in which young farmers migrated to cities for jobs, Ma explained. "Now, the scale is gradually tilting to the countryside." 

Some students who have been mobilized to the countryside said that the process aroused their patriotism and bolstered their sense of social responsibility. 

"It triggered my passion to participate in the revitalization of China's countryside, and I will consider dedicating myself to a career in the grassroots," a 20-something college student based in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, told the Global Times.


Newspaper headline: Students mobilized for rural services


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