Project Hope has helped more than 3.04 million dropouts return to school across China since it was launched 18 years ago.
A total of 13,285 Project Hope schools have been built with financing from the scheme. The schools are located in the country's far-flung and mountainous regions, according to Gu Xiaojin, Party secretary with the China Youth Development Foundation.
China launched Project Hope on October 30, 1989. The fund pools donations to help impoverished rural school children to complete primary school education. Since its inauguration, Project Hope has received more than 3.5 billion yuan (US$0.46 billion) in donations from domestic and overseas sources including individuals, government organizations and major transnational corporations.
Guizhou, a land-locked province in west China and one of the poorest regions in the country, has received 350 million yuan (US$46.2 million) in donations since Project Hope was initiated in the province in 1990. The funds have allowed Guizhou Province to build 1,339 primary schools, said Wang Fuyu, deputy secretary of Guizhou Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The province has also used the donations to bring more than 135,000 dropouts back to school. More than 3,100 teachers have been trained in conjunction with improved conditions at the various Project Hope schools during the past 17 years.
China has been working on building a mechanism that guarantees compulsory rural education funding. The mechanism would ensure that the cost of rural education be covered by central and local finances.
Last year, China exempted students in rural areas of western China from tuition and miscellaneous fees during their nine-year compulsory education. The exemptions will be expanded to central and eastern regions this year.
The move will relieve the financial burden on 150 million rural households with school-age children, who make up nearly 80 percent of China's primary and junior middle school students.
Gu Xiaojin, who is also deputy head of the council for China Youth Development Foundation, said that donations from Project Hope would be used to finance construction of more schools adjacent to pupils' homes and to upgrade existing schools.
(Xinhua News Agency August 24, 2007)