A project aimed at giving 1 million landless farmers free job training over the next decade gets under way in earnest this year.
Thanks to a donation from a Hong Kong non-profit-making foundation, the Warmth Project will begin training courses in 20 counties in China's poverty-stricken areas. It will help farmers who lost their farmland as a result of urbanization.
Lee Ka-Kit, speaking on behalf of Hong Kong Pei Hua Education Foundation, said that the foundation would donate at least 100 million yuan (US$12 million) to the National Association of Vocational Education, the project sponsor.
Lee, a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said the foundation was glad to help farmers.
He added Hong Kong's entrepreneurs were all willing to support the central government's policy of building a new socialist countryside.
The Warmth Project was tried out late last year in four counties in Yunnan Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
To date, the project has trained nearly 1,000 farmers in the four counties, according to Chen Guangqing, director of the National Association of Vocational Education.
"We welcome the mode of made-to-order training, because it is easier to help farmers land jobs and get paid," Chen said.
Nearly 100 farmers in Longzhou County of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in south China, who received the training, have already started working at factories and restaurants, with stable incomes.
More than 350 farmers in Menglian County, 201 farmers in Hekou County of Yunnan, and 181 farmers in Jingxi County of Guangxi have completed training in sectors such as tourism, catering, mechanical and electrical maintenance, and clothes making.
The Warmth Project is a social welfare undertaking that gathers funds to train the disadvantaged group to improve their skills and get better-paid jobs.
Hong Kong Pei Hua Education Foundation has helped train more than 10,000 officials in the country's ethnic regions in the past two decades.
(China Daily March 11, 2006)