On 7th April 2017, the Open University of China (OUC) “Long March Belt” project seminar and opening ceremony was held in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province. OUC President Yang Zhijian attended the ceremony, which was hosted by OUC vice president Liu Chen, and gave a speech. Zhu Aiying, president of Jiangxi RTVU; He Fuzhou, a leader from Jiangxi municipal government; and university leaders from the Hebei branch and the 12 OUC branches along the path of the “Long March Belt” also attended the ceremony.

The OUC is a new-style university directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. It uses modern information technology to support a school network covering all of China’s urban and rural areas, implementing distance education for all members of society. Yang Zhijian pointed out that the OUC’s “Long March Belt” educationally targeted poverty alleviation project aims to provide educational assistance to national-level poverty-stricken counties along the route that the Red Army marched in 1934-1935. The project embodies the OUC’s educational mission, characteristics, advantages, and affection for old revolutionary base areas. He said that the OUC should adopt an effective and practical working methodology to carry forward the work at hand, which includes selecting the target points, collaborative cooperation within the OUC system, assistance and support between groups, acting according to due capabilities, offering skill training to help people get rich, and providing employment opportunities to help former revolutionary regions to get rid of poverty.

The targets of the OUC’s “Long March Belt” project are identified according to two prerequisites: firstly, they should be located in the old revolutionary base area that the Red Army marched through, and secondly, they should be national-level poverty alleviation counties. The project will provide free training for village cadres at the grassroots level, offer free education for people in poverty and give free vocational skill training to implement targeted poverty alleviation. Through the processes of recommendation and selection, 26 poverty-stricken counties at the national level, including Ruijin and Shangyou in Jiangxi Province and Yongshun in Hunan Province, have been included in the “Long March Belt” project. The OUC will make Shangyou County a pilot project in order to explore the educationally targeted poverty alleviation model through methods such as strengthening the construction of the study centre, improving its school-running capability, and conducting degree and non-degree educational programmes.

By Lai Xiudong, Li Yue, Lan Guorong, Gannan Daily