Rural Students Benefit from the World of Computers

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Born into a farmer’s family in Luocheng, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Liang Yanfang, 16, a Mulao ethnic minority girl, had no idea what a computer looked like two years ago.

With her parents working away from their village in the Guangzhou, she lived with her grandma, often feeling disconnected from the outside world.

But her life took a turn when she entered the four-story Deshan Middle School, probably the most luxurious building in Longan township, where dilapidated brick or thatched houses are common.

“For the first time in my life I saw a real computer,” Liang told China Daily.

Every week, Liang goes to the computer classroom twice, to learn how to use software like Word and Excel, and Internet search engines like Baidu.

“Computers have opened my eyes and helped my study. And now I have a dream to go to college in a large city,” said Liang with a timid smile.

Liang is just one of millions of beneficiaries of the educational program called “Partners in Learning,” (PiL) launched by Microsoft China in cooperation with China’s Ministry of Education on November 20, 2003.

PiL Program

Under the agreement, which began in 2003 and ends in 2008, Microsoft will contribute over US$10 million in investment, donations and other forms of support to help furnish computer education and computer-aided teaching programs in primary, junior middle and teachers’ schools, especially those in rural and remote areas.

Building 100 computer classrooms and developing a training system for IT teachers are two main components of the program, Zuo Jingyun, director of education in charge of PiL in Microsoft China, told China Daily.

“We believe the combination of IT and education is a crucial factor in eliminating the digital gap between urban and rural areas, and promoting educational development as a whole,” Zuo said.

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Source: China Daily (link opens in a new window)