SEATTLE — China’s one-child policy in 1978 meant that if a family had one child who happened to be a girl, they would have to invest in her education. However, China’s decision to end this policy in 2015 meant that families with two children would be more likely to invest in educating their sons instead. Because of this change, providing education to girls in China has become a priority for many entities.[hr_invisible]
How EGRC Educates Girls in Rural China
In April 2015, the Educating Girls in Rural China (EGRC) organization had helped more than 500 girls from the rural areas of Qinghai, Guizhou and Gansu get through school and attend college. Three hundred of those girls had already graduated, 150 were still attending college and more than 100 were still in high school. Tien Ching, the founder of EGRC, said she was most proud of the girls achieving a 100 percent graduation rate.
Though EGRC is providing education to girls in China, Ching realizes that the children often miss their families and experience the hardships of big city life. EGRC not only provides financial assistance to Chinese girls, but also gives them moral support that often helps their academic success. “I really wanted to know about their individual situations and to offer them security,” says Ching, who travels to various Chinese cities and visits the girls.[hr_invisible]
The British Council’s Inspiring Women Project for China
On December 4, 2016, the British Council launched a project called Inspiring Women to give China’s middle school and college girls a chance to learn more about their future careers. The project would also help China’s girls learn from the experiences of outstanding women in all walks of life. Yang Lan (one of China’s most successful female media entrepreneurs) and Dame Barbara Woodward (China’s British ambassador) are patrons of this project.
Inspiring Women will encourage Chinese girls to consider occupations outside of traditional gender roles. Vice President Li Yuanchao stated that eliminating discrimination against women workers can raise China’s per capita productivity by 40 percent. “We know that no country can truly develop without unlocking the full potential of women and girls, so it is imperative that we each look to ourselves to see what we can do to achieve this,” said Sir Ciarán Devane, the British Council’s chief executive.[hr_invisible]
Using WeChat to Donate to Chinese Girls’ Education
During the summer of 2017, Tufts University student Menghan Li visited three counties in southwest Guizhou, one of China’s poorest regions. Li’s intentions were to find scholarships for girls in these communities to help them complete secondary education and improve the livelihood of their local communities. Li selected 100 girls from 12 schools and created online profiles for them on WeChat, China’s largest social media platform.
Li’s goal is for donors to match themselves to one of the many Chinese girls’ WeChat profiles. “So far, we have raised $26,500, which will pay for three years of tuition for 35 girls,” Li wrote in a blog on August 10, 2017. Li is also working with Harvard Seed Camp to create a class curriculum for the girls that will include online lessons in spoken English, women’s leadership, national culture and sex protection.[hr_invisible]
Teaching Chinese Girls How to Code
In China, only one out of five programmers are female. In 2016, a former programmer known as Chen Bin opened a school, Coding Garden, that could help reduce this gap by providing education to girls in China. Coding Garden teaches Chinese girls and boys how to write code and also offers girls a free online coding course.
In August 2017, Bin reported that despite his efforts, the gender gap between male and female programmers remained unchanged. However, Bin’s program has still managed to offer more opportunities to Chinese girls who wish to pursue programming careers. “The biggest benefit of the program was to let the girls know at an early age that they can make it. They will be more confident in the future,” The Queen C-cup, a relationship column, said about the school.[hr_invisible]
Efforts will continue being made to end the gender divide between China’s children. EGRC, the British Council, Tufts University and Coding Garden will continue providing education to girls in China. This work could attract more organizations and individuals to create education opportunities for China’s girls as well.
– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar