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College dream an inspiration for Yu

DESPITE reports of graduates struggling to find jobs, Yu Sai, from Fenkou Village of Chun'an County in east China's Zhejiang Province, will not waver from his dream of a place at college.

Yu returned to school this week and was staying up late every night to study.

"I want to go to college because academic degrees decide the starting point for job applications," he said.

His mother, Yu Xinfeng, is determined to try her best to finance his education if he gets accepted into college.

"With a college degree, whatever job he might land would be less backbreaking than land tilling," she said.

Yu's family were not dismayed by reports of the difficulty of graduates finding a job. "Failing to receive a college education, rural children would have to follow their parents to migrate into cities and take up low-end jobs. When the economy is bleak, such jobs are the first to be cut," Yu Xinfeng said.

In Chun'an County, where manufacturing has replaced agriculture as the biggest contributor to local economy, many farmers share the mother's anxiety about their children's future.

Jiang Shedong, who lives in Zhangyao Village, half an hour's walk from Fenkou, wished that his son had gone to college.

He now works with a dyeing factory in Hangzhou and earns 2,000 yuan (US$292) a month.

"His pay is not bad. But it would be difficult for him to take his career to a higher level," Jiang said. "As he works for a small company, I always worry that he might lose his job some day."

In recent years, when the economy registered double-digit growth, attending a vocational school was a fast track from the countryside to the city for many young adults.

Students at vocational schools enjoy tax exemptions and government subsidies. In contrast, the cost of college could be at least 10,000 yuan a year.

Lu Yongmin, of Beijing's Communication University of China, said: "Short-term vocational training is helpful in facilitating employment. But having more rural children get access to college education could elevate the country's overall competence, which is good to the nation's future."


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