South China's Guangdong Province has launched a five-year grant program to send 20,000 poor rural kids to secondary technical school. Some 210 million yuan (US$25.4 million) has been earmarked for an intellectual poverty relief fund to aid students from families whose annual income is under 1,500 yuan (US$181). So far, 10,000 of Guangdong's impoverished students have begun their studies in 57 technical schools under the program.
The junior and senior middle school graduates who apply for the grants are examined and verified by several poverty relief departments. Once approved, the fund provides 3,500 yuan (US$423) annually for each student to cover tuition, lodging and probationary fees during their studies.
Schools accepting students under the program must guarantee jobs upon completing the program. If a student fails to secure employment, the school must reimburse the provincial finance office the full amount of the grant.
The province has taken substantial steps to ensure that the funds are used properly and effectively. The provincial finance, labor and social security, and poverty relief departments have jointly issued the Management Rules for Guangdong Technical School Intellectual Poverty Relief Fund. A system has been established to track and check fund usage, while audits and evaluations will be conducted annually.
Any unit or individual who obtains a portion of the fund through fraud embezzlement or theft will face punishment, to be administered by a criminal court if appropriate.
(China.org.cn by Wang Qian May 9, 2004)