“Hope” project helps young dropouts
More than a million school dropouts have been given a little hope for the future.
Over the last six years, Porject Hope, a Chinese education charity, has provided the means to send youths back to school.
But the China Youth Foundation, sponsor of the country’s biggest charity project, has found that Hope can only do so mcuh.
“It is like trying to quench a fire with a cup of water,” admitted Xu Yongguang, Secretary-General of the Youth Foundation.
Confronted with 1 million youths annually who drop out of school because of money problems, the charity alone is not enough to give each child the chance of being educated.
“It is the government’s job to provide education for all. As a non-govenmental organization, Hope can only do what the government is unable to do because of financial disadvatange,” Xu said.
In the last six years, the youth foundation has raised 500 million yuan($60 million) to buy textbooks for poor rural children and has built 1,000 new primary schools.
Xu said that the success of Hope lay not in the number of people it has benefited, but in the fact it has helped focus attention on the imptance of education.
“We tell parents that their children should go to school so that they may have a better life. Wherever our money goes, that local official are encouraged or pressured to invest in education,” Xu said.
Xu said Hope had also greately excited rural teachers, most of whom could earn more in other businesses, but who have stayed for the love of children.
Each year, the foundation selects 100 outstanding rural teachers and presents them with awards in Beijing.
In a broader sence, Hope is also beneficial to the donors.
“It has become a kind of fashion to support Project Hope,” Xu said.
While China rushes into a market economy, many people are overwhelmed by profit-oriented principles, said Lu Jianhua, a sociologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
However, Lu said, with the emergence of the Project Hope, many have realized that there are more important things than making money.