One hundred of China’s rural teachers were recognized by the Jack Ma Foundation Sunday for their outstanding services in some of China’s most impoverished and remote areas.
All award recipients at the third annual event received a grant of RMB100,000 ($15,500) for the next three years as part of the Foundation’s commitment to raise education standards in rural China.
“We must ensure our children have the ability to compete in the future. For kids who are seven or eight years old, they will never get the opportunity to succeed if they don’t enjoy a fair access to education right now,” said Mr. Ma, adding the only sustainable solution to ending poverty is through education.
An integral part of the event was a gathering of over 80 of China’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs to pool resources and ideas to advance the education quality in poor areas and combat poverty in China.
“Our goal with this initiative is to make a real impact on rural schools and encourage China’s entrepreneurs to play an important role in the fight against poverty,” Ma said.
The two-day event in Sanya also included roundtable sessions conducted by Mr. Ma and prominent public figures who shared their insights on child development and education with the teachers.
The Foundation was established in 2014 by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, who has pledged to improve the living conditions in the China’s underprivileged areas through education. Mr. Ma is a former English teacher and has maintained a passion for education.
At the event, the Foundation also announced that it would undertake the mission of renovating the boarding school facilities in rural areas by offering new beds, beddings, transportation vehicles, as well as more nutritious school meals.
One of the recipients is Ma Jun, 34, an elementary school teacher from Shanxi Province who teaches mathematics, art, physical education and Chinese across all grades. As a multiple award-winning educator, she has made it her life mission to help raise up the “left-behind” children – minors who have one or two parents working in the city far from home.
“To improve the quality of food we serve to the students, my mother and I started a vegetable garden and my father started to raise pigs,” she wrote.
Another winner is Wang Fei from Shandong Province, a junior high teacher trained in music education. During her decade-long services as a rural educator, Wang has taught music and Chinese. But in recent years, Wang also took on another role as an Internet expert at her school. In that capacity, she instructs students how to best use the Internet in the digital era so they can be on an even playing field with students in the big cities. She has also held sessions for teachers in over 18 provinces on incorporating the internet into their classrooms.
The Jack Ma Foundation is a sponsor of several initiatives aimed at improving the quality of education in China’s countryside areas. In 2017, 18 headmasters participated in an all-expense paid tour to the U.S. to meet with rural educators there. The foundation also established a pre-service teacher program to encourage fresh graduates to serve in the oft-overlooked small towns and villages across China. Participants were selected from teacher-training programs from Sichuan, Chongqing, Hunan, and Jilin.