High School Principal Helps 1,500 Impoverished, Rural Girls Change Destinies

 September 16, 2019
High School Principal Helps 1,500 Poor Rural Girls Change Destinies

Zhang Guimei (2nd R), principal of Huaping Women's High School in Lijiang City, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, visits a student's home and talks to her parents. [Xinhua]


Zhang Guimei, 62, principal of Huaping Women's High School in Lijiang City, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, is not slowing down.

"I will try my best to help students learn and succeed, and educate them to make contributions to society," Zhang said. She still insisted on family visits, telling the CPC's revolutionary history and stories to students at school and started to work at 5:00 am until late into the night.  

Decision to Stay in Huaping

In 1972, Zhang, a 15-year-old girl from Northeast China, went to Yunnan Province with her elder sister. She has stayed in the province for 47 years.

In 1995, Zhang's husband passed away, which was a great blow that made her decide to leave Dali, where they had lived, to a small town of Huaping to work as a middle school teacher.

Zhang worked very hard in teaching, but just when she gradually recovered from sadness, she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids, putting her in despair again.

Knowing she was sick, the President of the Women's Federation of Huaping County visited her and called for a donation for her.

Zhang was so moved that when she recovered from illness, and she determined to do more to pay back the kindness of the local people.

Devotion to Establishing Free Women's High School

Zhang found many girls from impoverished families in the county were unable to go to school. To help the girls in the rural mountainous areas receive high school education, she came up with the idea of establishing a women's high school free of charge.

She began to raise fund to realize her wish.

In September 2008, with the support of the Party committees and governments at various levels and people from all walks of life, the first free women's high school in China was established in Huaping County, and 100 students were enrolled in the first year.

At its inception, the school was in extremely difficult conditions with poor facilities. It only had one teaching building, without dormitories, canteens or toilets.

Facing the hardships, Zhang was worried about the school as some teachers and students left because of the poor conditions, and people doubted whether the school could last.

'Red Culture' for Overcoming Difficulties

"We needed a unique educational concept to inspire the teachers and students in difficulties," Zhang said. As most of the teachers who chose to stay were CPC members, she decided to promote "red culture" (the CPC's revolutionary history and stories), helping teachers and students learn more about the CPC's development and theories and shape strong beliefs and confidence in overcoming difficulties.

Zhang believed that "as long as we have CPC members, there is nothing that can't be done."

After more than ten years of persist efforts, the school has developed well and now has a beautiful campus.

"We would not have had the opportunity to go to university if we didn't attend the Huaping women's high school," said Lv Na, Deng Jie and Guo Jinlin, three girls admitted by universities. "The school principal and teachers' dedication helped us get out of difficulties."

In the past ten years, Zhang has visited more than 1,500 families and helped a similar number of girls from impoverished families find their life direction. She also donated 700,000 yuan (US$ 98,900), the bonus from the local government and various honorable titles she had received, to poverty-stricken mountainous areas and disaster-hit areas.

"I have to grab a little more time and cultivate more young girls for society, so that I will have no regrets in my life," Zhang said.


(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)


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