Over the past 30 years or so, talent has become a key element of the development and reform of rural China. Modern distance education has played an invaluable role in the process of cultivating talent.On 30 May, the OUC held the 22nd Roundtable Conference on China Distance Education in Hangzhou. Nearly a hundred delegates attended, including specialists and leaders from the OUC, China National Institute for Educational Research, China Agricultural University, China Liaoyuan Radio and TV School, Jiangsu Radio and TV University and Zhejiang Radio and TV University.They examined the historical mission of distance education in modern times, focusing on the Rural Students Training Programme of Zhejiang Radio and TV University.

In recent years, the central government down to local governments have paid increasing attention to agriculture, rural areas and rural people. The key points are: to develop education in the rural areas, there must be increased numbers of well-educated people with technological and managerial knowledge. Li Lu, Deputy Director-General of the Education Department of Zhengjiang Province pointed out that, as the backbone of distance education in Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang Radio and TV University has promoted the Rural Students Training Programme. It has made the most of its system, resource and network advantages to bring higher education to rural areas. It has produced reliable and qualified management personnel, who then become leaders of agricultural production, agricultural business owners and advocates for advanced agricultural culture.

According to statistics, since Zhejiang Radio and TV University initiated the Rural Students Training Programme in 2007, the educational reach has grown, with course participants rising from 6 to 62. 11 courses have been established, including horticulture, forestry and rural administration. The total number of enrolled students reached 14,417. Among them, 3058 students studied propagation and animal husbandry, with 2531 graduating from the programme. Among the success stories are king of grape cultivation Ge Lingteng, master of white tea Lin Xiaowei, expert of ecological cultivation and founder of the brand Atuben Chicken Huang Tugen, and Director of the Cooperative Unforgettable Oranges Feng Yifa.

Yu Zhenbo, Deputy Director of Agriculture and Countryside Work Group, Zhejiang Province, raised the point that rural training now faces the new challenge of how to meet the needs of the next rural generation. He thinks that the radio and TV universities can call into play its advantages of multi-level education and distance education. Using the education and training model , secondary and tertiary education can be combined with skill and entrepreneurship training. In this way, students put their knowledge into practice, the needs of the next rural generation are satisfied and new entrepreneurs born.

Fang Zhigang, President of Zhejiang Radio and TV University said that the University would continue to make use of the advantage of modern distance education, giving full play to the rich adult education resources. It will explore degree, non-degree and community education, enhance the overall standards among those living in rural areas and their ability to become entrepreneurs, and provide intellectual support for the integration of urban and rural areas.