Zhang Guimei supervises students during a class. [Xinhua/Chen Xinbo]
Over the past several decades, Zhang Guimei has devoted her life to helping improve the education of children in poverty-stricken, mountainous areas of Southwest China's Yunnan Province. She founded Huaping Senior High School for Girls in Huaping, a county in Yunnan. It is the first high school offering free education to girls in China. More than 2,000 girls from the school have been admitted to universities.
In the 1990s while teaching at Huaping Minzu Middle School, many of Zhang's girl students from poverty-stricken families dropped out of school. Zhang realized that she needed to improve the education level of the local girls. That inspired her to establish a free-of-charge senior high school for girls. "Girls should get equal access to education, as most of them will become mothers in the future, and they will influence the lives of their children," said Zhang.
With support from the local government, various organizations and the warmhearted people from all over the country, Zhang established Huaping Senior High School for Girls in August 2008.
Traveling along treacherous mountain paths, over the past decade, Zhang has visited more than 1,600 students' families, to encourage the parents to send their daughters to school, enabling the girls to improve their education and change their fates.
Zhang Guimei accompanies students doing exercises during the break. [Xinhua/Jiang Wenyao]
Given Zhang and other teachers' efforts to help the students improve in their studies, all of the children they've helped over the past decade have been admitted to universities or colleges upon passing China's college-entrance examinations.
Zhang joined the Party in 1998. She has placed a note on a wall in her office that reaffirms her dedication to her career. The note also stresses the Party and the people who have inspired her to persevere and pursue her dream.
Given her outstanding achievements, Zhang has received many awards and titles, including the July 1 Medal, the national model fighter against poverty, the Role Model of the Times, the National Outstanding Party Member and the National March 8th Red-banner Pacesetter.
Influenced by Zhang, many of the school's graduates apply to join the Party once starting university. Zhang is pleased that many of the school's former students have gone on to volunteer in faraway places with harsh conditions, and are helping others improve their lives.
When talking about the upcoming 20th CPC National Congress, Zhang believes that, with the successful convening of the congress, every child in mountainous areas will have more opportunities in the near future. "The Party's care for girls in mountainous areas has changed their fates," Zhang said, "As long as I have breath, I will continue fostering talents for the Party and the nation, and will help more girls leave the mountains and become qualified successors to the socialist cause."
|Zhang Guimei talks with a student's parents during a visit to the child's family. [Xinhua/Wang Xiuli]|
(Source: China Women's News and Women of China English Monthly)
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