At 7:50 in the morning, Zhang Xiaohui, the general manager of the Weikeou Technology Company, entered the office on time and opened a laptop on the desk to start a busy day.

 

As a well-known entrepreneur in Xingping, Shaanxi province, Zhang Xiaohui is either admired or asked about by many people. He was born to a family that had been impoverished for two generations, often skipped classes in junior middle school, and was thought as a hopeless “Internet addict.” Yet, by 22 years old, he became a well-paid white-collar worker at a well known company in Shanghai. At 23, he returned to his hometown and found his own company. At 24, he was an elegant gentleman. Young and promising, he became a successful person in commoners’ eyes.

Zhang Xiaohui knew in his heart that the reason he was able to transform from a “wild stallion” to a “swift horse” was because he had benefited from his learning experience at the study centre, Shaanxi Xinhua Computer School of the OUC Secondary Technical School.

In the 9th grade, when he was 16 years-old, he was addicted to playing online games, and tired of the boring classes. Hard to tame, like a wild stallion, he played truant with eight other like-minded classmates, and dreamed to make a venture in the world as a free person. But they were too young and unskilled, and had to return home after being driven to desperation. His mother had no choice but to find a job for him in a hotel. For three years, he worked hard, from morning till night, learning to make side dishes and cook in a narrow and shabby kitchen, always wet with sweat. He suffered a lot of pains in doing a job he disliked, and felt no fun in life. So, despite of the opposition from his family, Zhang Xiaohui quit the job and went to work part-time in an Internet cafe in Xi’an, where he saw many teenagers his same age, who indulged themselves in game rooms and Internet bars, often got drunk and fought, and muddled along without aim everyday. He feared that he might live like them for the rest of his life, and began to feel regret. An idea to return to the campus flashed across his mind.

When he learned that the Shaanxi Xinhua Computer School was a study centre of the OUC secondary technical school, and he could acquire the “double certificates” of skills and graduation from a secondary technical school, he rushed home and told his parents that he wanted to go to school. His father agreed to send him back to school, hoping that he would not disappoint them this time.

When he returned to school, he found his own goal in life and, swore to himself that he would learn well and not let his parents down. The clean and quiet campus, advanced teaching facilities, teachers with great knowledge, lively class instruction, rich and colourful club activities, and on-the-job learning which would enhance his skills, all made him feel fresh and happy. He was learning unwearyingly, and was chosen as an excellent student to represent the school in all kinds of contests, and obtained excellent results. Upon graduation, the school recommended Zhang Xiaohui to engage in computer animation and game production in a cooperative school-enterprise company in Shanghai. He cherished the hard-won position, kept improving his business abilities, and quickly became the technical backbone of the company. A year later, he declined the company’s offer of promotion and salary increase, returned to his hometown with all his savings, and started a company primarily engaged in network technology promotion services, corporate image planning, computer graphic design, advertising, etc., eventually hiring more than 40 employees.

Recent years have seen many students like Zhang Xiaohui, students who realised their dreams after studying at the OUC secondary technical school. After the process of learning, graduation, and employment, they finally grew to be skilled assets to society.

Since the school’s establishment, it has strived to meet the needs of different industries, while serving social development. The OUC’s secondary technical school, along with other OUC branches, and related industries and enterprises, has established more than 100 study centres around the country, and opened more than 80 specialty programmes, including computer, construction, fire control, and kindergarten teacher, with a flexible educational system (including one-year, two-year, and three-year). Before 2016, the number of on-campus students totaled 56,000. The OUC secondary technical school adheres to construction principles and pays attention to the integrated design of teaching process. In 2015, its secondary technical school launched an online platform. Along with the continued strengthening of the network learning resources construction, it now has realised a full network of learning for some specialties, and provided teachers and students with an integrated network learning environment and diversified learning modes enabling learning (and teaching) anytime and anywhere. The secondary technical school also focuses on the combination of production, learning, and research, vigorously integrating all sorts of teaching resources of vocational secondary schools, constructing network course resources, and providing learning resources and learner support services for secondary vocational schools across the OUC system and at other ordinary secondary technical schools, technical schools, and educational training institutions that carry out distance education.

Editor’s Note: In July, 2012, the Open University of China (OUC) was inaugurated on the basis of the China Central Radio and Television University. For 5 years, the OUC has always been adhering to its unique mission and has made active explorations around the "1314 projects" and new contributions to promote equality in learning and the formation of a society for all people to learn and lifelong learning, which has won wide recognition from the society.On the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the inauguration of the OUC, the OUC portal network launched a special column called OUC Stories, which is aimed at presenting the educational achievements made by the OUC in recent years from various angles and directions by means of a series of stories, so as to gather strength for and inspire OUC people to continue to move forward while recalling the original intention!

By Zhu Jiaping and Yu Zhangli,OUC