Muslim community strives to keep girls at school

12:46, March 06, 2011      

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Authorities in a Muslim Hui autonomous prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province are combating poverty and gender discrimination to keep all school-age girls in the classroom.

Figures released last week showed all school-age children in its eight counties were attending primary school, and the attendance rate at junior high schools had reached 95.5 percent.

"This shows girls' schooling, a problem that has harassed us for decades, is settled to some extent," said Ma Yongming, deputy education chief in Linxia.

Linxia, with a population of 2 million, is dubbed "China's own Mecca" as more than half of the residents are Muslims.

Until the mid 1990s, only about 60 percent of its girls went to school. Inadequate education left 80 percent of women aged 15 and above illiterate.

"While some parents refused to send girls to school because of poverty, many others believed it was a waste to spend the money on their daughters, who would be married off into other people's family and there would be no return on such investment," said Ma.

Boys, however, were often treated differently.

"Parents rarely hesitated to send their sons to school," said Tang Yuwen, vice president of Beiling Village Primary School. "But some were reluctant to send daughters to school even if it was for free."

Source:Xinhua

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