Full text: China's Progress in Poverty Reduction and Human Rights (3)
Poverty eradication through ecological conservation is making progress. In poverty-stricken areas, the state promotes the protection of natural forest resources, returning farmlands to forests and grazing land to grasslands, controlling the sources of sandstorms affecting the Beijing- Tianjin area, controlling stony desertification, and protecting biological diversity. All these efforts have contributed to protecting the ecology in impoverished areas and restoring the environment, to improving local ecology, to providing more opportunities for the impoverished population, to boosting the industries with local characteristics, and to increasing the employment and income of local residents and protecting the resources required for their development. China has established a mechanism for ecological compensation, and is actively promoting the program in poverty-stricken areas. It has further raised the standards of compensating the ecological benefits of forests, improving the reward mechanism for grassland ecological protection, and promoting the modernization of animal husbandry in poverty-stricken areas. Measures have been taken to expand the income channels of the impoverished population, and to encourage voluntary work by those living in the key projects areas, thereby bringing them benefits. China strives to improve living conditions of impoverished population. Efforts have been made to improve the ecological environment of impoverished counties, and to promote the development of woody grain and oil, specialty fruits, timber and bamboo forests, forest-dependent industries, herbivorous animal husbandry, and eco-tourism, effectively improving the lives of the impoverished population.
Increased efforts have been made to alleviate poverty through education. During the Twelfth Five-Year Plan period, China prioritized education in its effort to eradicate poverty. The measures included: continuing to promote the balanced development of compulsory education, closing the gap in education between urban and rural areas, improving education infrastructure in impoverished areas, implementing the Action Plan for Three-Year Preschool Education, offering cost-of-living subsidies to teachers in rural areas, and enrolling students from poverty-stricken areas, exempting their tuition fees at secondary vocational schools, and allotting living subsidies to the students. All this was targeted at ensuring impoverished people's access to education.
In 2012-2015, the central government injected RMB83.1 billion into poor compulsory education schools, and RMB14 billion to build244,000 dormitory units for 300,000 teachers in remote rural areas. The state carried out a three-year action plan to promote preschool education, increasing the nation's three-year preschool gross enrollment rate from 62.3 percent in 2011 to 75 percent in 2015. In central and western China, the number of children enrolled in kindergartens rose from 21.53 million in 2011 to 27.89 million in2015, up 30 percent. Following the release of the Notice on Unifying the Establishment of the Faculty and Staff of Elementary and Secondary Schools in Urban and Rural Areas, issued in November2014, the teaching and administrative staff of elementary and secondary schools in villages, counties, and towns began to enjoy the same standards of establishment as urban schools, with favorable treatment for those in remote poor rural areas. In2013-2015, the central government allotted RMB4.4 billion for cost-of-living subsidies for rural teachers in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, benefiting over one million teachers in 600 counties. In 2012-2015, the central government provided RMB41.7 billion in tuition subsidies to secondary vocational schools, and granted exemptions from tuition fees to rural students (including those from counties and towns) and urban students with agriculture-related majors or with financial difficulties (except those majoring in arts) at full-time public secondary vocational schools. Students who were eligible for tuitions exemption at private secondary vocational schools certified by administrative organs were guaranteed the same tuition exemptions as students of the same major at local public secondary vocational schools. The state offers grants to first- and second-year students with agriculture- related majors or with financial difficulties at full-time schools, and the standard has been raised from RMB1,500 per student per year in 2012-2014 to RMB2,000 since the spring semester of 2015, covering 40 percent of students. A directional enrollment program was carried out in poverty-stricken areas, enrolling 183,000 students in 832 impoverished counties form 2012 to 2015. In 2013-2015, the annual growth rate of rural students from poor areas enrolled in key universities was kept above 10 percent.[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]