Boosting equitable, quality education
Like many children of the Yi ethnic group in the remote Daliang Mountain in southwest China, 11-year-old Azuowule knows that there is a Grandpa Xi who cares about them.
Ahead of the Spring Festival in early 2018, President Xi Jinping visited the homes of impoverished villagers who live in Zhaojue County, deep in the Daliang Mountain in Sichuan Province.
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, chatted with the villagers on their children's schooling.
The children's journey to school has become much easier over the past years.
When Azuowule started primary school four years ago, he had to walk for more than an hour along the steep mountain road to get to his school four km away.
In 2015, a new cement road was built, cutting his travel time by half. In 2017, a new school building was completed. All students have moved into bright and safe classrooms, and have a full primary school curriculum.
A member of the school's soccer team, Azuowule even got a chance to compete in a friendly match in Nanjing, a metropolis in east China. None of his family members have traveled that far.
"I want to go to lots of places and compete with different teams," Azuowule said.
Education is an area the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has paid close attention to. A lot of efforts have been made to let Chinese people enjoy more equitable and higher-quality education.
BETTER TEACHING CONDITIONS
Teachers in the Yangjialing Fuzhou Hope Primary School in Yan'an, Shaanxi Province, still remember the visit by President Xi in February 2015.
Xi told them, as the teachers recalled, that education was essential as it was the key to development.
Changes have taken place over the past four years. The school building was heightened to five floors. It now has special classrooms for calligraphy, art, music and dance, all equipped with modern teaching devices.
In addition, the school has built partnerships with counterparts in big cities and sent its teachers there for training.
The school's teaching staff has doubled over the past four years.
"With the rapid development of our school, we have more opportunities for advancement. I enjoy the happy and fulfilling job now," said Zhang Yan, a Chinese language teacher at the school.
FOR WELL-ROUNDED STUDENTS
In September 2016, Xi visited the Beijing Bayi School and recognized the school's efforts in sparking students' imagination and creativity through science projects like designing minisatellites.
In December that year, Xi wrote back to student inventors before the minisatellite was launched, urging them to stay hungry for knowledge and keep their interest in scientific exploration.
The news about the successful launch made Zhang Xinxin, then a middle school student, determined to apply for the prestigious school.
Now a senior high school student at Beijing Bayi School, Zhang takes part in the design of a suborbital vehicle, leads a comic club on campus, and remains a fan of basketball.
The school also boasts various programs including robots, soccer, dancing and Peking opera. "These activities inspire us to keep trying and exploring the unknown," Zhang said.
Well-rounded development of students has been underscored as the core of education.
In the opinion of Niu Zhenyun, Party chief of the Beijing Bayi School, encouraging versatility is not contradictory to academic requirements for students.
"Curiosity is the perpetual motivation driving children to pursue knowledge," Niu said. "What we are doing is helping them explore their potential and nurture them into people aspirational and passionate about life."
Four years ago, Li Mingyang lived in frustration as a student in a vocational school in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Attending a vocational school was a secondary choice because he scored poorly in high school admission exam.
But in 2015, Li and his classmates got a huge "pat on the back" from President Xi.
In a visit to Li's school, Xi said skilled professionals, just like sci-tech talent, are much sought-after by various industries.
"You should be confident in your future," Xi said.
A young man who enjoyed tinkering with old machines, Li Mingyang came to realize that he could have a promising career just doing what he did best.
Days after days of diligence in the workshop paid off. After graduation, Li has plenty of generous job offers to choose from.
Following Xi's instructions, the governments at various levels have over the past few years issued a raft of measures to boost vocational education.
Like Li, more and more young Chinese have gained access to a wide range of vocational programs to their interests as they seek to attain their individual dreams in a trade where workmanship is highly valued.