Do not encourage rural children to go to college

From Sina | translated by Ivan | edited by Key


On Mar 7, Wang Ping, member of the national committee of CPPCC, director of Chinese National Museum in Beijing, stated that children from rural areas should not be encouraged to enter university, because once they go to university, they would never go back to their hometown, which would be a tragedy. In her opinion, supporting a child to go to university will cause poverty for a family , and because the kid may not be able to find a suitable job or afford a house after graduating from college and also not willing to return home. This is quite unreasonable. (Mar 9, Jinghua Times)

Wang Ping’s opinion was soon quoted by many websites and raised a storm of criticism among netizens: “Are all rural kids doomed to work on the land generation after generation? Shouldn’t they have a taste of the reform?” Other netizens even doubted how she became a member of the national committee of CPPCC, and even going to conduct human flesh search on her.

In my opinion, Wang Ping’s view was astonishing and unexplainable, but it was not totally groundless or baseless. Generally speaking, she saw the problem, but prescribed a wrong recipe.

What Wang Ping noticed can be simplified into the following three points: first, the continuous expansion of the gap between rural and urban development causes the loss of rural talents, and the decline of traditional culture; second, the expensive university tuition outweighs what a poor rural family can afford, which leads to the situation of “one person going to university, whole family falling into poverty”; third, the lack of employment and development opportunities imposes great pressure and difficulty on rural university graduates.

These three challenges do exist. These thirty years of the implementation of reform and opening up have witnessed a remarkable headway made in the living standard in countryside, but still the income gap between rural and urban areas is increased to 3.6 times from 2.4 times in 1980s. Under the great siphon effect generated by the huge gap, rural students are reluctant to go back to their hometown, which leads to the lack of talents in countryside and the emergence of Vacant Village symptom, let alone the old problems of the expensive university tuition fee and the job-hunting difficulty for university graduates.

What’s ridiculous is that Wang Ping saw the problem, but no proposal to address these social problems was put forward. Instead, she rationalized all these. At least she regarded them as unsolvable. Rather, she asked rural students to give up the opportunity to enter university or even go into city. This is a totally wrong prescription!

These problems mentioned above can be solved mainly by vigorously promoting the program of metropolitan “feeding” countryside and encouraging farmers to create new cooperative economy and to go in for non-agricultural industries and so on. In dealing with unaffordable university tuition issue in rural families, we should step up to reform higher education system and exercise remission or reduction on tuition fees for students from the countryside or poverty-stricken districts.

If we completely follow Wang Ping’s advice, China would turn into a society with a caste system, where superior caste, living in city, savors the result of reform and modernization while inferior caste, staying in rural areas, does manual low-paid labor generation by generation—— isn’t it a huge step backwards in history?

Facing the apparent lack of fairness and practicality in the advice, Wang Ping kept preaching on her Great opinion with self-satisfaction without any awareness. This again showed the parochialism, short sighted vision and selfishness of some elites and the necessity of the reform in NPC & CPPCC.

  1. I think the article miss the point that she was trying to make: If the young people from the countryside continue to pursue the dream of finding a pot of gold in the big cities, the life or culture in the countryside, which is an important part of Chinese culture is going to disappear. Now that is what she said in the interview. She also said that it would be a much better idea for rural kids to take a vocational education which acutally would enable them to return to the countryside and use their skills.

    Unfortunately for Wang Ping, her concerns didn’t get much attention. But there is reason to believe that her concerns about lost culture is for real. She is a the leader of the Chinese Ethnic Museum and a well known public voice, so I have no idea why it should be necessary to do human flesh search on her.

    Now we can all agree that the message of not encouraging rural kids to go to college and the reasons over shadowed her concerns and that she probably could use a spin doctor. On the other hand, it is interesting to see how the Chinese press -just like China Hush – take things out of context.

  2. What usually happens is that the kids move out anyway to find jobs in the city. All these small timer farmers would really be better off selling out now so that one farmer can consolidate the land holdings to apply economy of scale.

  3. what they can do is to improve the culture and way of life in rural areas. it’s up to the kids to decide, i remember a post here on hush that a female graduate returned to her hometown to be a painter. they can do the same if they had some sort of choice for the kids to make for themselves.

  4. The arguments of Netizens who question the merits of “The Chinese Dream” grew more pointed in the lead up to the two meetings and after a year of inflation in day to day costs such as food and housing, but that didn’t quell the criticism Wang recieved from the crowd after her flub. Considering the online support for teary comments from CPPCC rep He Youlin (忧民哥), the Party has been scrambling to match happiness-oriented and equitable economic and social policies with public sentiment. Scientific Development and Putting People First haven’t yielded many tangible results toward realizing these goals, so what makes the new political rhetoric from the people that matter (not CPPCC reps) different than what we heard ad naseum at the beginning of Hu’s administration?

  5. Dump more money into the rural so the peasants won’t wanna leave. They don’t really wanna go to college but that the scam everyone believes in to get an education you don’t fully understand and then not apply it in any field that you have any skill in performing for little to equal pay if you find a job at all. Allot of times they end up turning into full time prostitutes and or “xiao bai liang” to get by day to day. In some cases they end up buying into becoming military or become if they are lucky. Meanwhile poor Granny and mom and dad are slaving or shit out of luck because they have no land to make scratch because they were listening to that line about making a butt load of money to buy that house and pay for that surgery and get that car they dreamed of having. That ship sailed about 6 years ago.

  6. Too long winded. My translation:

    “Chinese Universities and college are generally worthless. They are better off staying home and being productive.”

    Knowing what China’s educational environment is like right now. This is simply the truth.
    Going for higher education right now will only benefit the smallest miniscule percentage of students. The rest are wasting years of their lives getting a worthless piece of ink smeared paper.

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