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Development held back by poor education

By Xu Wei and Yang Jun ( China Daily )

Updated: 2017-03-29

Like most of his peers, Zhao Jian lives in a wooden home built by his grandfather and maintains a similar lifestyle to his ancestors.

The two-story wooden structure is also home to Zhao's grandmother and parents, his wife and their two children. They can barely survive by growing rice and chilies on their 0.47 hectare of farmland, so they rely on the money Zhao, 34, earns working part-time jobs in a nearby town in Guizhou province.

Zhao is a member of the She ethnic group in Baiyangping, a village in Kaili, a county-level city in the province.

He said She people have a special fondness for wooden buildings because they are more comfortable in the relatively humid, but sometimes icy, winters in Southwest China.

"But now it's extremely difficult to find wood in the mountains to build a new home. The forests made way for farmland decades ago," he said.

Baiyangping, which has more than 50 wooden houses, has been certified as a "village with ethnic characteristics" by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.

The She people, who once enjoyed a reputation as trailblazers, mostly live in the mountains. The group, scattered across the provinces of Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Guangdong and Guizhou, numbers about 70,800, according to China's last census, conducted in 2010.

Zhao, whose education ended at junior high school level, is one of the few young people still living and working in the village. Almost all the other members of the younger generation are migrant workers in cities.

According to Zhao, irrespective of their location, most young people return to the village to celebrate important festivals.

He occasionally works as a plasterer in nearby towns.

"I cannot adapt to life in cities, and I can only find low-paid work because of my limited education," he said.

"I hope my son and daughter can eventually leave the village and make a living elsewhere."

(China Daily 03/29/2017 page6)

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