Shangsi County: Counter Poverty to Create Brighter Futures for Yao Minority Girls Through Education
Shangsi County in Fangchenggang City is in the southern part of Guangxi’s Zhuang Autonomous Region. It is an autonomous region classified as an impoverished county situated deep in the mountains. Due to geographical, historical and societal factors, in addition to having to live very harsh livelihoods, they have sustained very old fashion ideologies with sayings such as” dogs don’t farm and girts don’t read.” The educational level among females is extremely low with few completing a junior high level and those reaching senior high are rare. Most Yao girls only finish elementary school and then stay home to farm, some get jobs outside the Region or marry young.
Since 2011, Fu Hui has been working closely with the Guangxi local government and opened 17 junior high school girls’ classes, senior high school girls’ classes and Elite classes for about 900 students. Representatives from Shangsi local government officers and Fu Hui visit the schools annually to hold discussions and ideas exchange. They also visit some of the students’ homes to better understand their circumstances. Fu Hui’s Letter Writing Group has continually maintained correspondence with the students to provide support, guidance and encouragement.
Fu Hui gifts for the graduating class
Fu Hui Senior Girls Class
Fu Hui Elite Class
Over the years, through the promotion and related supportive policies from the local government, more and more girls are leaving their homes in the mountains to attend school. Parents see that their daughters are gaining knowledge and understand how education can improve the aspirations of their families. Gradually their traditional beliefs are changing - they see that when their children receive more education, the whole of Shangsi County’s educational levels are elevated..
Just like the rhododendrons flowers in the mountains, the Yao girls have blossomed and grown steadily and confidently under the guidance and nurture of their schools. Over half of the girls either finish senior high school or go on to university. Over a hundred vocational school and university graduates have begun their respective occupations as teachers, nurses, accountant, government officers, sales manager etc. Many have chosen to return home to teach, contributing to their hometown’s educational development.
Li Hong – Fu Hui senior high school graduate - now a teacher at Shangsi Experimental Secondary School
Ma XiaoFei – Fu Hui senior high school graduate - now a teacher at Shangsi Experimental Secondary School
Zhou Jiajia - Fu Hui senior high school graduate - now a teacher at Yao Village Public School
Video: Fu Hui Shangsi Program: Shangsi Alumni
“Nurture one child, impact one family”. Over a decade, the stories abound about “education changing fates” in Shangsi. One after another, Yao girls have not only stepped out of the mountains, they’ve helped their families be rid of poverty towards a new and beautiful life.