Some attendees at a national youth congress expressed their desire to volunteer for jobs in underdeveloped western areas of China in response to government calls for graduates to "go west."
The All China Youth Federation, a pillar organization led by the Communist Party of China, held the 1st Plenum of its 10th National Committee with 1,400 participants in Beijing from Friday to Sunday.
Song Fangrong, a new deputy attending the conference, has worked hard trying to provide education for children in one of the poorest parts of the country, the rural area of Wufeng County, Hubei Province, at an altitude of 1,800 meters.
The 32-year-old, from the Tujia ethnic minority, has been teaching in a primary school there for 17 years. For many of them, Song was the only teacher in the school.
"I came from the countryside, and I want to return to my hometown, so it is natural for me to choose to go back after graduation to help," said Zhu Xuejun, a senior China Agriculture University student from north China's Shanxi Province.
At the beginning of this month the State Council issued a circular encouraging graduates to seek jobs in the west, to release employment pressure in big cities and meet a shortage of professionals in comparatively poor areas.
In the following weeks, leaders including Hu Jintao and Jia Qinglin made the same call.
The number of college graduates rose from over one million in 1999 to 3.38 million in 2005. Many have failed to find jobs in big cities while higher educated professionals are badly needed in less developed areas, particularly the western region.
Graduates are often reluctant to work in the west because of lower incomes and harder working conditions.
"We established a flexible identity registration system to dispel graduates' worries of not being able to go back big cities later on," said Hou Jianliang, the vice minister of personnel, "And the government promises to support those working at grassroots with special funds."
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, July 25, 2005)