Introducing Guanlan ScholarshipFoundation: Empowering Girls Through Education

Introduction to Guanlan Scholarship Foundation, Chinese Scholarship NGO.

At the Guanlan Scholarship Foundation, our mission is clear: to support and prioritize the education of girls and young women. Why? Because numerous studies, including those cited by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 and UNICEF in 2004, have consistently shown that investing in girls’ education is one of the most impactful ways to address the fundamental challenges to human development.

This commitment to girls’ education is not just a moral imperative; it is also a legal obligation enshrined in international agreements such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1988), the Millennium Development Goals (2000), and the Sustainable Development Goals (2015). As outlined in The Millennium Declaration (2010), girls’ education plays a pivotal role in combating poverty, hunger, and disease, while promoting human dignity and social justice.

The World Bank has echoed these sentiments, recognizing girls’ education as one of the most effective investments a country can make. By enhancing economic productivity, improving health outcomes, and securing basic human rights, such as the right “to lead longer, freer and more fruitful lives” (Sen, 1997), girls’ education sets the stage for broader societal advancement.

Yet, amidst the Chinese governments’ commitment to these global goals and its considerable influence, we must ask a crucial question: Is girls’ education truly accessible on the ground in China?

At the Guanlan Scholarship Foundation, we are dedicated to turning this question into action. Through our programs and initiatives, we strive to make quality education a reality for every girl and young woman in China. By providing scholarships, mentorship, and educational resources, we empower girls to overcome barriers and pursue their dreams.

Join us in our mission to unlock the full potential of girls and young women through education. Together, we can create a future where every girl has the opportunity to thrive, contribute, and lead.

Continuing the Exploration: Unveiling the Educational Realities of Anjinggou Village

Delving deeper into the fabric of rural China, our focus turned to the village of Anjinggou, where we witnessed firsthand the intricate interplay between the social system and education, particularly for the doubly marginalized population of girls in left-behind communities.

In Anjinggou, we discovered a remarkable eagerness among girls to pursue education, despite facing formidable obstacles. Breaking away from traditional norms, these girls courageously confronted harsh conditions to attend school. The girls redefined their gender identity, delayed marriages, and decreased preference for boys and numerous children to enjoy more freedoms

—a testament to the transformative power of formal education.

Our studies shed light on how formal education serves as a catalyst for rural out-migration, a phenomenon observed not only in Anjinggou but also across developing regions worldwide. By instilling values that prioritize paid work, often in urban settings, education shapes the trajectory of young people’s lives, influencing their decisions to leave their villages in search of better opportunities.

By offering a detailed examination of the educational journeys of village girls from a remote area in western China, our study fills a crucial gap in the literature. The rarity and independence of our data collection, coupled with a focus on girls over a 22-year period, provide invaluable insights into educational trends in regions like Anjinggou, which typify the left-behind areas of western China.

Moreover, our research offers a poignant glimpse into the lives of a significant portion of China’s children—those directly affected by migration, comprising 54.5 percent of the population (UNICEF & NBS, 2021). By amplifying their voices and experiences, we contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges they face and the opportunities education can unlock.

Ultimately, our findings underscore the profound impact that improved education for girls can have, not only on their individual well-being and that of their families but also on broader human development challenges. As we continue to advocate for equitable access to education, we strive to create a future where every girl in China, regardless of background or circumstance, can fulfill her potential and contribute to a thriving society.

Charting Educational Progress: A Story of Growth and Opportunity

As we reflect on national educational trends, it’s evident that strides have been made since 2010. China’s National Bureau of Statistics reports a notable increase in the proportion of the population with tertiary education, rising from 8.93% in 2010 to 15.5% in 2020. In comparison, our data reveal a remarkable surge in tertiary enrollment within our sample, with only four Guanlan Sisters (GS) pursuing tertiary education prior to 2010, followed by a significant increase to 17 GS between 2010-2019, and an additional 7 GS from 2020-2022. The increase rate from 4 to 17 GS between 2009-2019, and an additional 7 GS from 2020-2022 is 500%. This steep rise underscores the transformative impact of our scholarship program on educational attainment.

The period spanning from 2000 to the present marks significant milestones in China’s education landscape. The universalization of compulsory education was achieved, and the proportion of the population accessing private-pay senior secondary education increased substantially from 80.6% in 2010 to 92.4% in 2020. Similarly, within our sample, all Guanlan Sisters attained compulsory education by 2017, with occasional dropouts due to health reasons. This progress can be attributed, in part, to increased government expenditure on compulsory and senior secondary education. However, persistent barriers to equal access persist, including regional disparities in government spending and the imposition of arbitrary educational fees by local authorities.

Turning our attention to the educational journey of the 139 Guanlan Sisters over 22 years, we witness remarkable advancements. Analyzing five-year increments, we observe significant leaps in educational attainment, with 55% advancing beyond compulsory education to senior secondary schooling, and an impressive 89% graduating from senior secondary school. Unexpectedly, post-secondary and tertiary enrollment surged from 1% to 30%, highlighting the transformative impact of our scholarship program.

By 2022 of the 101 GS who had completed their schooling, 13 had achieved only at the primary level, 29 had attempted or completed the compulsory 9 years of schooling, and 29 had attempted graduated from senior secondary school, with an additional 29 having entered tertiary education. In total, 76% of GS had achieved compulsory education or beyond, with 20 currently enrolled GS poised to continue their educational journey beyond compulsory schooling.

These statistics not only underscore the success of the Guanlan Scholarship Foundation in empowering girls through education but also highlight the transformative potential of investing in girls’ education to drive societal progress and human development. As we celebrate these achievements, we remain steadfast in our commitment to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for every girl to realize her full potential.

Exceeding Expectations: The Resilience and Achievement of Singleton Outliers

In our analysis, we anticipated encountering a few outliers who surpassed expectations given their challenging backgrounds. However, what we uncovered was truly remarkable: 11 Guanlan Sisters (GS), comprising 13% of the cohort, had either been adopted out to serve adults in another household or had tragically become orphans during their school years. Despite facing extraordinary adversity, these individuals emerged as educational outliers, achieving remarkable success.

What is particularly striking is the educational attainment of these singleton outliers. A staggering 30% of them made it into tertiary education, essentially the same as the overall proportion of GS enrolled in tertiary institutions (29%). Additionally, 50% of these outliers successfully completed senior secondary school, compared to only 19% of the entire GS cohort. These achievements defy the odds and underscore the resilience and determination of these individuals to overcome adversity and pursue their educational aspirations.

Their journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the unwavering commitment of the Guanlan Scholarship Foundation to empower every girl, regardless of circumstance, to reach her full potential.

As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of these singleton outliers, we are reminded of the immense potential that lies within every individual, regardless of the challenges they may face. Their success inspires us to redouble our efforts in breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for all girls to thrive and succeed.

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