During the half century or more since the founding of New China, all social undertakings in Xinjiang have undergone historic changes.
Education developing steadily. Compared with that of 1949, in the year of 2001, the number of primary schools in the region increased from 1,335 to 6,221, middle schools from 9 to 1,929, polytechnic schools from 11 to 99, and regular institutions of higher learning from 1 to 21. The number of students currently registered at local institutions of higher learning has increased from 400 to 110,000, and 185,000 students have graduated from regular institutions of higher learning. The number of students currently registered at polytechnic schools has increased from 2,000 to 97,300. Elementary education has been continuously improved, and nine-year compulsory education has been realized in 65 counties (cities, districts). Adult education of various types has made steady progress. A multi-level, multi-form occupational training system has by and large been in place. The ratio of the educated population of the region has grown remarkably. The proportion of illiteracy among the young and middle-aged has dropped to less than 2%.
Progress in science and technology. The overall strength of science and technology has increased tremendously. The region has established a research and development system, a technology popularization system, and a sci-tech administration and service system with relatively complete and supplementary disciplines, relatively rational distribution and distinctive local characteristics; trained a crop of sci-tech specialists with high academic achievements; created a sci-tech contingent made up of people of various ethnic groups and highly capable of research, development, experimentation, popularization and management; and built a number of laboratory centers and experimental bases characteristic of the sci-tech advantages of Xinjiang. The accelerated industrialization and commercialization of sci-tech research findings have changed Xinjiang’s traditional ways of agricultural production and operation, and notable achievements have been made in protective plant cultivation, irrigation technology and strain improvement. The technological transformation of industrial enterprises has enhanced both their economic efficiency and market competitiveness. Science and technology are playing an important role in the development of the regional economy and social progress.
By the end of 2001, the number of professional and technical personnel in the enterprises and institutions of the whole region reached 385,100. During the 50-odd years since the founding of New China, Xinjiang has achieved 7,102 significant sci-tech findings, of which 201 have won national awards. The technical popularization of Xinjiang’s merino sheep has attained the advanced level in China, while the region’s technology of desert highway construction is in the forefront of the world.
Culture and art prospering. Before the founding of New China, there was not a single professional theatrical troupe, artistic research organization or art school in Xinjiang. By 2001, there were altogether 89 theatrical troupes, 107 art research and creation units and an abundance of art schools. The Uygur, Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz, Mongolian, Tajik and Xibe ethnic minorities now all have their own professional theatrical troupes and have produced a galaxy of outstanding artists. Before the founding of New China, Xinjiang had no public library or museum to speak of. Today, it boasts 81 public libraries and 23 museums. In recent years, radio and television have advanced in seven-league boots. Currently, there are 41 radio transmission and relay stations, and 826 television transmission and relay stations. Radio reaches 91.3% of Xinjiang’s population, and 90.93% have access to television. Literary and artistic creation is flourishing. The Rainbow of the Tianshan Mountains, Pioneers of Muqam and a spate of other outstanding artworks have won national awards. The full-length song-and-dance ensemble Bravo Xinjiang has caused a great stir throughout the country. A number of literary and artistic works with strong ethnic characteristics have been well received nationwide and even abroad. The genres and number of titles of books, newspapers and magazines have doubled or redoubled. The number of newspapers increased from 4 in 1952 to 98 in 2001, of which 43 were published in local ethnic-minority languages.
Health work improving rapidly. In 1949, Xinjiang had only 54 medical centers, with 696 hospital beds in total. For every ten thousand people there were on average only 1.6 hospital beds and 0.19 doctor. Besides, health organizations were all concentrated in a few cities or towns.
But in 2001, there were 7,309 health organizations of various types, of which 1,357 were hospitals of various types. There were 11 hospitals at the level of Grade III or above, and a total of 71,000 hospital beds. On average, for every ten thousand people there were 35.1 hospital beds.
In addition, there were 97,500 professional medical workers, of whom 33,600 were of ethnic-minority origin. The average number of doctors per thousand people, the average number of beds in town and township clinics per thousand rural people, and the number of medical workers in towns and townships were all above the national average levels.
A three-tier medi-care and disease-prevention network at the levels of county, township and village has been preliminarily formed in the agricultural and pastoral areas. Today, all the 85 counties (cities) of the region have hospitals, sanitation and anti-epidemic stations, and health centers for women and children. Each township has a hospital, and each village a clinic. No longer is there a shortage of doctors and medicine, or neglected patients in the agricultural and pastoral areas.
The medical treatment level has been greatly enhanced. Major hospitals at the regional or prefectural level are equipped with modern medical instruments, and the medical branches they can offer for disease treatment have grown more complete. Many difficult and complicated illnesses can be treated within the region, which has 207 sanitation and anti-epidemic stations, and 17 prevention and control centers (stations) specializing in the treatment of endemic diseases.
Endemic and contagious diseases that afflicted people of all ethnic groups in the past have been basically wiped out. The immunization ratio, based on regional, county (city) and township (town) plans, has reached 85%, and the incidence of infectious diseases has been markedly lowered.
Under the care of the central government, the region has carried out programs to improve water quality and prevent diseases on a large scale, and made great achievements in these fields. The population benefited by the improvement of water quality has topped 8.5 million, of whom the population enjoying piped water has reached 8.1 million.
Special attention has also been paid to the work concerning the health of women and children. In the rural areas, the ratio of adoption of modern midwifery has reached 70% or more. The ratio of women giving birth in hospitals has reached around 50%. The coverage rate of pregnant and lying-in women under systematic health protection has reached 90% in urban areas and 50% in rural areas, and that of children under systematic health protection 70% in urban areas and 30% in rural areas.