URUMQI, June 11 (Xinhua) -- With the Chinese central government set to roll out a free education policy next year in southern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, students like Ryangul have new dreams of attending high school.
High school students in Xinjiang's southern regions, which are mainly inhabited by ethnic Uygur people, will receive free education, according to a statement released after a meeting in late May of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee chaired by its general secretary, Xi Jinping.
Ryangul, a middle school student from Moyu County in Hotan Prefecture in south Xinjiang, has renewed hope of furthering her education in high school, even though her poverty-stricken parents have asked her to drop out to become a tailor after junior middle school graduation.
Eniwar Abulimit, director of the education bureau in Kashgar Prefecture in south Xinjiang, said the population in the south of the region is mainly made up of low-income farmers and herdsmen.
The free education policy is especially important in the region, he said.
In Kashgar, tuition for a high school student costs 2,000 yuan (320 U.S. dollars) each year, teaching materials cost at least 1,000 yuan and living expenses about 1,500 to 2,500 yuan, while the average annual income of most poor families in the prefecture is less than 3,000 yuan, he said.
Eniwar Abulimit said that the new policy will help many students in the region change their fates.
Akeze, 20, quit school after she graduated from junior middle school in Kizilsu Kirgiz Prefecture.
"If the policy had come years earlier, I would have realized my dream of becoming a college student," Akeze said.
She said 25 of her 45 classmates dropped out of school because of poverty, so they had to make a living on farming or grazing, or stay unemployed at home.
Cui Yanhu, a professor of anthropology at Xinjiang Normal University, said students who cannot further their education after junior middle school may lead to social problems such as unemployment and social instability.
Free education in high schools will lift the enrollment rate of junior middle school graduates and prevent them from being brainwashed by the extreme thoughts behind terrorism, according to Cui.