BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) — “Frost boy,” Wang Fuman, no longer has frosted hair and chapped cheeks this winter.
In January of 2018, the then third-grader became an online sensation when a photo showing him arriving at school in a thin jacket with rosy cheeks and frost-covered hair after a one-and-half-hour walk was posted on social media.
Now his family has moved to a new house and the 4.5-km mountain trail to school has been replaced by a concrete road. The boy and his elder sister in Ludian County, a rural area in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, can walk to school in 20 minutes.
“The new concrete road has made going to school much easier. No longer do I have to worry about their safety,” said Wang Gangkui, the boy’s father.
Living and education conditions have remarkably improved in rural China, as governments at all levels are committed to improving people’s livelihoods.
Wang Fuman’s family got rid of poverty in autumn this year, waving goodbye to the old days of squeezing in an old adobe house, relying on potatoes for sustenance.
Ludian is one of Yunnan’s 27 deeply impoverished counties. In 2014, about one-fourth of the county’s population of 469,000 were impoverished. The figure dropped to 29,892 in 2018 thanks to a set of supporting policies such as housing renovations, relocations and developing characteristic industries.
The “Frost boy” family’s change of fortune mirrors China’s progress, where more than 80 million people had been lifted out of poverty between 2013 to 2018.
Building a moderately prosperous society (Xiaokang) in all respects is an important milestone in realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, which Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, first spoke of seven years ago when he visited “The Road Toward Renewal” exhibition in Beijing.
“The Chinese Dream is, after all, a dream of the people. We can fulfill the Chinese Dream only when we link it with our people’s yearning for a better life,” Xi said in a speech during his visit to the United States in 2015.
According to the official definition, a “Xiaokang” society refers to an economic state whereby the people become relatively well-off after eliminating poverty, with access to compulsory education, basic medical care and safe homes, as well as food and clothing.
Now Wang and their neighbors have moved to a new village. The Wang family now live in a 100-square-meter brick house — just 2 km away from their previous home. The new house is modern, bright and warm in winter, with a range of furniture and appliances, such as an induction cooker, sofa, and a 25-inch television.
The “Frost boy” family is just one of millions of households in China’s remote areas. For them, the Chinese dream is all about children attending school, the elderly enjoying good health and the family having more income.
Wang Gangkui still works as a construction worker but now makes twice as much as seven years ago. He goes back home once a week to spend time with his family.
Wang Gangkui’s mother, Yao Chaozhi, fell ill a few days ago. The medical expenses were around 3,000 yuan (about 426.5 U.S. dollars), and Wang was delighted to find that over 2,000 yuan could be reimbursed by medical insurance. “It’s a big relief for us,” said Wang Gangkui.
China has been constantly pushing forward its medical reform to guarantee everyone easy access to medical resources and a better quality of life.
The basic medical insurance now covers over 1.35 billion urban and rural residents, or 98 percent of the population, according to the National Health Commission.
The medical service capacity in county-level hospitals has been dramatically improved, with 80 percent of local residents able to reach a medical center within 15 minutes.
When Yao recovered, she came back to take care of her two grandchildren.
Wang Fuman’s school has six classes. Each classroom has an electronic blackboard installed with a rich variety of teaching resources. They also have a large computer room and a 56-square-meter library, housing more than 10,000 books. A basketball court and three ping-pong tables are also there to enrich the lives of students after class.
As China continues to promote its nine-year compulsory education, the number of students dropping out of school in impoverished areas has significantly dropped, according to the Ministry of Education.
In 2018, the net enrollment rate of primary schools nationwide reached 99.95 percent.
The ministry is also providing more free online courses to rural schools, and investing more funds in building and renovating rural schools to ensure that not one child is left behind.
“We have been trying to create a good living and learning environment for our children over the years,” said Fu Heng, who became the principal of Wang Fuman’s school in 2016. “My dream is that the children will grow up healthy and happy.”
In just a year, the 10-year-old has grown much taller, active and talkative. He lives at school on weekdays and returns home on the weekend. “Now school is closer and the accommodation conditions are much better. We are all happy at school,” he said.
“I like learning and want to enter a university in Beijing. My dream is to become a police officer when I grow up to protect my country,” the boy said, bundled up in a thick winter coat.