Yao Qin is chairman of the Bosch China Charity Center and reports about the educational situation in the Western regions of China and the aim to provide long term help for those who suffer from bad learning conditions.
The Bosch China Charity Center aims to give disadvantaged sections of the population new opportunities through education.
What is the current situation in China and in the mid-western region in particular?
Qin: Across China, the poverty rate of rural area dropped from 17.2 to 10.2 percent between 2010 and 2012. However, this number exceeded 20 percent in nearly half provinces of West China. Out of 100 million impoverished people living in China by the end of 2012, two thirds are from the western regions. We notice a few improvements though. For example, the rate of transportation has respectively risen to 92.8 percent, which is an increase of 4.7 percent compared to 2010. The number of households with access to electricity went up by 0.8 percent to 98.8 percent.
What are educational opportunities like in this region? Are there enough schools, universities, and qualified teaching staff?
Qin: By the end of 2012, the enrollment ratio of pre-school children in the Key State-Supported Impoverished Counties has reached 97 percent. Yet, the education infrastructure in the western region is still insufficient. The majority of the elementary schoolhouses are unsafe and more than 90 percent of them do not have a canteen. Besides, the number of qualified teachers is quite limited. Take Gajia elementary school for example, which is one of our supported projects: There are only ten teachers in a school of 235 students. Only half of them received an education sufficiently qualifying them for their position.
How does the Bosch China Charity Center help? What practical steps are you taking to combat the problems just described?
Qin: At first, we provide the “hardware” support by helping to improve the educational infrastructure. For instance, the “Bosch Caring School”, “Bosch Caring Canteen”, “Bosch Caring Library” and “Bosch Solar Heating Poverty-Relief” programs are meant to improve the study environment. The establishment of solid entities is beneficial to the long-term and sustainable development of our charitable actions. Second, we aim to provide the “software” support by helping with training programs and volunteer activities. For example, the “Bosch Inspiration Class”, “Bosch Summer Camp” and “Bosch Bursary” are designed to develop students’ skills as well as teachers‘ capacities. And in the long run to contribute to the poverty alleviation cause in western China. We act according to the Western proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
How has the work of the BCCC developed since it was founded in 2011?
Qin: We have established a Three-Year Plan with a total of 40 projects. Five of them have been completed and another seven projects are being implemented by the end of 2013. One of them is called “Bosch Inspiration Class”. Its aim is to provide poor students with grants for vocational training and finance scholarships for those with outstanding performance. By the end of 2013, BCCC’s total donation commitment exceeded 31 million CNY. In total 6,000 students and teachers will benefit from it.
After the earthquake in Sichuan province in April 2013, the BCCC provided 5 million CNY to rebuild educational establishments. What has happened since then?
Qin: We managed to donate 0.6 million CNY values of goods to the disaster area right after the earthquake. Furthermore, we signed a contract with the Education Bureau of Qionglai County in order to support the reconstruction of an elementary school that has been affected. Currently, the design drawing is finished, and the groundbreaking is planned for this March. By the end of August, a new school building of 1,980 square meters will be build up as scheduled and 450 students will benefit from this project. After that, 0.4 million CNY will be used to establish “Bosch Bursary” in this school.
How does Bosch China benefit from the foundation’s commitment?
Qin: Before we founded the Bosch China Charity Center, our corporate brand was hardly known in the rural area of Gansu province. Now, the awareness of Bosch has increased remarkably, from the provincial and local governmental officials to the village farmers. They all have obtained a good understanding of what our company does to improve living conditions. So far, we received some prestigious awards such as the "Excellent CSR Case Award 2013” issued by the Executive Committee of Foreign Investment Companies and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In the same year, we were also titled “China CSR Exemplary Enterprise” by a Chinese Entrepreneur magazine.
Please outline a current foundation project that is very important to you personally and explain briefly why.
Qin: I feel very engaged with the “Bosch Caring Canteen” project in Ningxia, which is the only Hui minority autonomous region in China. So, besides poverty-relief the projects aim is to preserve the solidarity of the minority population in our country. Over the past two years I led my team to do the field research and visited over 20 schools across Ningxia. Not only did we learn that a large number of poor people are still living in the mountains with limited natural resource, we also witnessed thousands of kids studying in shabby and unsafe schoolhouses and having lunch on the playground, all of which has left us with an unforgettable impression.
There’s hope of improvement though. Ningxia is the first batch of provinces to establish a Charitable Industrial Park, which indicates that the concept of philanthropy has been rooted in the governmental mindset. The local government in Ningxia has already provided supplementary funds to our pilot project and committed to give financial support to the other 21 Bosch Caring Canteens. Last October, the first “Bosch Caring Canteen”, accommodating 1,000 students, was completed in one of Ningxia schools. When I saw the kids having lunch in the spacious and bright canteen, when I saw the smiling on their face, I felt truly contented. I hope the following 21 projects will be implemented successfully and bring solid welfare to those needing students.
(Interview with Yao Qin, February 2014)