US coffee giant Starbucks has pledged to work with Chinese organizations to provide 40 million yuan (US$5 million) to give poor Chinese students from rural areas better access to education.
Starbucks and the Soong Ching-ling Foundation (SCLF), a social welfare organization set up in 1982 named after the late Chinese leader Soong Ching-ling, on Tuesday signed an agreement to launch the China Education Project in Beijing.
Starbucks donated 12 million yuan (US1.5 million) to kick-start the project at the signing ceremony.
According to the agreement, around 3,000 female teachers from 1,000 primary and middle schools in five western provinces will be given training during the summer and winter holidays to improve their teaching skills and provide them with updated learning techniques.
"With the up-to-date training, more rural teachers will have the skills necessary to inspire these young minds and help them learn," said Yu Guilin, the SCLF vice chairman.
Echoing Yu's remarks, Starbucks' Chairman Howard Schultz emphasized that Starbucks are passionate about its commitment to the community after entering into the Chinese market.
"As China is making efforts to build a harmonious society, attaching great importance to education, we hope our efforts can contribute towards this process," Schultz said.
According to Schultz, 300 schools will be provided with books, computers, teaching tools and upgraded sports facilities.
The SCLF has seen a rapid increase of donations since 2003 with the total exceeding 60 million yuan (US$7.5 million) for poor students.
(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2006)