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100 Guangdong migrants start free study at Peking University
2011-May-24 Source: People's Daily website
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As a worker of a printing enterprise, the 27-year-old Liu Qiongfang never thought she could study at Peking University, China's most prestigious university. On May 22, 2011, when Liu received her learner's license, she began to believe that the glamorous door was open for her.

A total of 100 second-generation migrant workers from South China's Guangdong province won the chance to study in Peking University free of charge thanks to the project "Realizing Dreams in Peking University 100" jointly launched by the Communist Youth League Committee (CYLC) of Guangdong Province and Peking University with the support of local media and companies.

The 100 migrant workers will take a minimum of two and a half years or a maximum of five years to study for a bachelor degree by online distance education. The 100 successful candidates will be allowed to pick one major from 12 options of the School of Distance Learning of Peking University, including law, Chinese language and economics.

The classes started in May 22, and lessons can be taken through online distance education or face-to-face teaching.

Guangdong Province has the largest population in China as well as has the most second-generation industrial workers in China. Currently, the industrial structure in Guangdong is crying out to be transformed and upgraded. Meanwhile, the new generation industrial workers need to enrich their knowledge and upgrade skills. Zhou Qifeng, the president of Peking University, said he hopes the project can provide a platform for workers' growth and development and boost Guangdong Province to realize transformation in industrial structure.

The project has been popular among migrant workers since it started in December, 2010. More than 2,500 migrant workers applied for the distance education of Peking University in total. Over 40 percent of applicants came from China's major labor export provinces, including Hunan Province, Hubei Province, Jiangxi Province, Henan Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Sichuan Province.

"The project provides a self-promotion platform for us. It also sends a message that the government and society are paying much more attention to migrant workers' rights. They use all kinds of means to help us to study and win the chance to develop," said Liu Qiongfang.

The project is not only well received by migrant workers but also welcomed by enterprises. The printing enterprise Liu Qiongfang works for organized more than 200 workers to apply for the project.

Many second-generation industrial workers have rich practical experience, but their comprehensive quality is not high. Zhao Weining, an official of the printing enterprise, said he hopes the project can help workers to enhance their quality and advance the enterprise's competitive energy.

With Peking University taking the lead, more and more colleges and universities have participated in the activities to help migrant workers realize their dreams. Many related projects are under consideration now.

Chen Dong, the head of the Guangdong CYLC, said that Guangdong will set up a "Hope Project" to help migrant workers to study in universities. As for the tuition, the government will pay some, the universities will reduce some, society will donate some, the enterprises will support some and the migrant workers will pay some. By this way, a migrant worker just needs to pay 1 yuan per day to study in a university in three years. The plan will benefit more second-generation industrial workers.

Based on the Peking University project, the Ministry of Education will organize 68 online education institutions under colleges and universities to take part in similar projects and help more second-generation industrial workers to have the chance to study, to use what they have learned and to succeed, said Ge Daokai, head of Vocational and Adult Education Department under Ministry of Education.

By Ye Xin, People's Daily Online

Editor: Olivia
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