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Scheme Aids Poor Students
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Officials from the Ministry of Education revealed on Tuesday that a scheme was in the pipeline to help poverty-stricken students pay their loans in the form of scholarships. But the condition is that they must agree to work in an underdeveloped region for a required period of time.

This scheme provides a ray of hope to those students who are going to graduate but have no way of repaying their loans. It is also welcome news for those who have received admission notices but hesitate to apply for an education loan because they would be unable to repay it after graduation.

It should also be good news for the banks required to provide such loans. In recent years, they have often been involved in legal cases with those students who fail to repay their loans. If state money is used to repay loans that may otherwise be defaulted, banks would be willing to grant such loans, and more poor students would be able to get loans.

If the positive effect on employment is taken into consideration, this plan may well kill two birds with one stone.

With the scheme encouraging more students to go to underdeveloped regions, the employment rate of university graduates will certainly rise. The scheme will also boost the skilled workforce of these underdeveloped regions, which are in urgent need of college graduates to promote their development.

But as soon as the proposals were made public, concerns were expressed that such a scheme may be misused.

In the designing of this scheme, detailed requirements must be made about which regions should be classified as underdeveloped and how long a student needs to work there before their loan can be paid with a scholarship.

Ambiguous or vague definitions will become loopholes to be taken advantaged of by a corrupt few.

A supervision mechanism is also needed in case some graduates pull strings to get certificates without actually going to where they are supposed to work or even use forged documents to get a scholarship.

The government has already done a great deal and is trying to do more to relieve as much as possible the financial pressure on students from poverty-stricken families.

More than 2.4 million students have been aided by state education assistance loans since the practice started in 1999.

We have reason to believe more policies will pave the way for poor students to finish their higher education.

(China Daily July 28, 2006)

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