Rural students in Chonqing Municipality are to leave junior school with a "green certificate" from a pioneering project to teach them basic farming techniques.
More than 100,000 students in the municipality in southwest China will benefit from the scheme which was launched recently by the local education authority.
The reform, after five years of pilot work, is aimed at arming the rural students with fundamental farming knowledge.
It is hoped local students can become competent farmers if they opt out of further education when their nine-year compulsory schooling is complete.
More than 300 junior schools conducted the reform and local government has vowed to extend the "green certificate" scheme to all junior schools under its jurisdiction by the end of 2003.
Chongqing, the fourth and youngest city directly under central government authority, is characterized by large disparities in wealth between its cities and rural regions.
This situation sparked the reform conducted by Educational Commission under municipal government, Ou Keping, director of the commission, said in Beijing recently.
"For students in rural areas, nearly 50 percent of them will lose access to school education after graduating from junior schools, and this means that they have to return to the countryside to farm," Ou said.
He added that 80 percent of its population is still located in the countryside despite the fact Chongqing itself is a world famous city.
"We should try our best to make those who are not academic have a good command of farming skills," Ou said.
The textbooks are designed according to the students' requirements and the rural reality in Chongqing; teaching staff are consisted of those biological teachers and experts provided by the agricultural authority.
(China Daily 06/25/2001)