Li supports Xinjiang classes

Updated: 2013-09-11 08:11

By Zhang Xiaomin in Dalian, Liaoning and Cui Jia in Urumqi (China Daily)

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Program helps students realize the importance of inclusiveness: official

For Arslan Ablimit, a 16-year-old student from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, meeting Premier Li Keqiang was an unforgettable experience that helped him clarify his goal for the future - to be a public servant like Li so that he can help people.

Premier Li visited Dalian No 20 Senior High School in Liaoning province on Monday, and met students and teachers from Xinjiang, calling for the promotion of educational equality for underdeveloped regions.

Ablimit and his teachers were very inspired by Li's unexpected visit to the school.

"I was reading a book in my dormitory when Premier Li came to meet us," Ablimit said on Tuesday.

"I didn't expect his visit, but I didn't feel at all nervous when I saw him because he was so kind to us. He told us that since we no longer have a shortage of food and clothes, we have to study hard and try to ensure all our countrymen will also have food and clothes in the future.

"I was very moved by his words and I know that he is just the public servant that I want to be - that is fully devoted to serving people. I will bring the knowledge back to my hometown."

The school started enrolling students from Xinjiang in 2000. Over the past 13 years, 1,663 students from Xinjiang have studied in the school, with 446 Xinjiang students currently enrolled there.

Zhang Qichao, the school's principal, said that the central and local governments have given the school 15,000 yuan ($2,450) per student every year to support the Xinjiang classes. Students receive free uniforms, dormitory accommodation, food and transportation between the school and their hometowns.

"Our school respects the traditions and cultures of different ethnic groups," said Zhang. "Since the students are far away from their parents, which can cause them emotional disturbance, we also invite professional psychology teachers to help them adjust to the new environment.

"Premier Li's visit to our school encouraged us to do more work in helping the Xinjiang students. We are planning to start cooperating with one school in Xinjiang to offer more help to them."

Educational authorities in Xinjiang started sending high school students, especially members of the Uygur ethnic group, to schools in more developed regions in 2000, aiming to give Uygur people living in the country's remote western regions easier access to quality education and greater opportunities.

Turson Yibulayin, director of the education department of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, in the capital of Urumqi, said the Xinjiang students benefit in various ways.

"The students can learn more than academic knowledge in relatively more developed areas. By living with local students, they can learn how to integrate with people from different cultures and backgrounds, which will help them realize the importance of inclusiveness," he said.

He added that more than 31,000 students are studying in Xinjiang classes around the country. Many have said they now better understand that people are all Chinese nationals, no matter which ethnic group they are from, which is extremely important to the future stability of the region.

Since 2004, 28,000 students have graduated from Xinjiang classes around the country and more than 95 percent of them have continued their studies in universities and colleges. About 70 percent of the graduates have come back to Xinjiang and have easily secured employment, Turson said.

He said the development of China's western regions requires the development of talent, especially among locals, and the Xinjiang class program can just provide that.

"Those who returned to Xinjiang have brought new concepts and ideas, while those who seek employment elsewhere can help to change people's perception of Xinjiang people and eliminate misunderstandings," he said.

Turson said education in the students' native languages is also important and should not be ignored by schools.

"The students shouldn't forget about their native languages after being taken away from their local environments, so schools with Xinjiang classes should provide such lessons to accommodate that."

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Lei Lei in Beijing contributed tothis story.

(China Daily USA 09/11/2013 page3)