A special State grant of 800 million yuan (US$99 million) will
be available every year for poor students at secondary vocational
schools nationwide starting next month.
The grant, allocated by the central government, is to help cover
tuition for 800,000 poor students at public and private schools.
Each student will receive a yearly subsidy of 1,000 yuan (US$125),
the Ministry of Education announced at a press conference
Students who apply for the grant must come from very poor
families, and certification of their family background issued by
local authorities is required, the ministry said.
The standard for determining exactly who qualifies varies from
province to province.
Wu Qidi, vice-minister of education, said the grant is "the
first national aid project for secondary vocational school
The only aid project at the moment is for poor university
students, but Wu said the central government is making efforts to
establish a comprehensive aid system to help all students from
impoverished families, no matter whether the student is at
university, vocational school or common secondary school.
Ministry figures indicate that about 4.8 million secondary
vocational school students in China are suffering from poverty,
accounting for 30 per cent of the total 16 million. Vocational
schools are an alternative to ordinary secondary schools, offering
education with a focus on work skills.
Wu said the majority of vocational students in China are from
rural areas or urban families with low incomes. "Without financial
aid, they're very likely to drop out of school because of tuition
costs," she said.
Tuition for secondary vocational schools varies from 1,000 yuan
(US$125) to 2,000 yuan (US$250) a year in different areas of
For those who fail to get the State grant, applying for
scholarships or loans might be another way. The ministry has also
urged local governments to set up scholarships for excellent
students at secondary vocational schools, and has encouraged
financial institutes to provide low-interest loans to vocational
Orphans, the handicapped and students from minority groups may
have their tuition waived, according to the ministry.
Wu estimated that with the help of local governments, financial
institutes and other social organizations, about 20 per cent of the
total number of secondary vocational students may get financial aid
in different forms.
In some areas, such as East China's Jiangsu Province, aid for secondary vocational
students started in 2004. Yu Haitao, an 18-year-old third-year
student at Shuyang vocational training centre, is among the first
group of students who benefited from the local aid.
The girl, from a rural family with a yearly household income of
500 yuan (US$62.5), is having her 2,000 yuan (US$ 250) tuition
waived each year. "Without the help from the school and government,
I could only have become a migrant worker," she said.
Yu said she was happy that more students like her would get
financial aid from the State grant, and more importantly, "rural
students have another way to get out of the countryside, other than
going to university."
(China Daily August 17, 2006)