According to the Stanford Rural Education Action Program, in 2018, over 70% of urban students are admitted to college, compared to less than 5% of rural students in China. This drastic disparity is exacerbated by COVID19, as rural students lack the access to reliable technology for online classes and fall behind their urban counterparts as they prepare for the national college entrance exam (gaokao).
During these unprecedented times, USCET is more committed than ever to support rural students to achieve their dream of a university education in China. Established in 2015, USCET’s Lee Paiyuan Scholarship has supported over 170 students in Yunnan to break the cycle of poverty for their families. The scholarships are given each year to the students with the highest gaokao scores in Binchuan county, Yunnan Province. The county is in a rural region where the educational disadvantages are felt deeply and gender disparities are pronounced. A report by the China Social Welfare Foundation in 2016 shows that although 96.1 % of rural female students are enrolled in primary education, only 79.3 % move onto secondary education, and the percentage drops sharply for those move onto university education.
Against incredible odds, this year’s recipients are all women: Ou Xue, Yang Shao Jiao, Zhou Wang Yahui, and Zhu Hui Qin. These students’ parents are farmers and migrant workers, who have made great sacrifices for their daughters to obtain an education. These students are studying English, calligraphy, and music. They dream of becoming librarians and lawyers. These four young women have overcome tremendous barriers, driven by their unwavering commitment to a better life for their families and contribute to their communities. We are honored to help them to achieve their dreams.