International experiences tell us the development of agriculture plays an important role in the early phase of poverty reduction, and non-agricultural policies, such as education and industrial and social policies, gain weight as the poverty-alleviation measures start taking effect.
As for the people living in abject poverty, like the Le'er villagers, building the steel ladder is not enough. Media reports say some children in the village do not go to school at all, even if the nine-year compulsory education is free. Local civil servants need to make more efforts to raise the awareness of villagers about the importance of education. Illiteracy is a big obstacle in poverty alleviation, and it is easier to make educated people see rationality and bid farewell to superstition and backward ideas. For that, officials have to patiently have face-to-face communication with the villagers. The local government should also set aside some special fund for training programs to impart new skills to the villagers and encourage them to make a living away from the mountains.
China's experience in poverty alleviation shows that Le'er needs a role model villager, who has improved his/her life with the help of education and/or mastering special skills. Only then will the other villagers try to follow the same path.
The prefecture government can help the Zhaojue county government to make arrangements for the Le'er villagers so that they can sell their pepper and goats in a bigger market, and thus create more jobs at home, especially for the senior villagers. Perhaps the village can also be developed as a tourism destination, as it commands breathtaking views of picturesque valleys, and the local ethnic culture and craftsmanship can be big tourist attractions.
By Li Yang
The author is a writer with China Daily.
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