Region banks on benefits of education

Eliminating poverty in the Tibet autonomous region will be a long and arduous task, according to an official with the regional government.

The harsh natural environment and wide geographical spread of people living in poverty mean the scale of the problem should not be underestimated, said Lu Huadong, deputy head of the Tibet poverty alleviation office: "It would be impossible to accomplish the alleviation targets overnight, given the region's poor economic situation in the past."

Meanwhile, the lack of initiative shown by many residents has exacerbated the challenge the authorities face. "Some of them are living in the past. Their thoughts are not entirely suited to the age in which we live," Lu said.

The authorities have set a goal of lifting 590,000 people - about 20 percent of the regional population-out of poverty by 2020.

The target will be met through government investment in sectors such as tourism, e-commerce and agricultural cooperatives, which will help local herders and farmers to relocate to less hostile areas, and people living in straightened circumstances will be offered training and part-time jobs.

Lu hopes that expanding the coverage of education will stop poverty being passed down from generation to generation.

In Nyingchi, a prefecture-level city in the southeast of the region, the authorities have invested nearly 3 million yuan ($434,000) to help children from poverty-stricken families receive a full education at school. That is in accordance with the regional government's program to provide a free 15-year education, from kindergarten to high school, for every child in the region.

Local authorities also provide every college student with an annual allowance of 4,000 yuan for food and tuition fees, and a subsidy, ranging from 500 yuan to 2,500 yuan, to cover the cost of traveling between home and college.

"The most effective way of reducing poverty in Tibet would be for one child from every family to graduate from high school or even college," Lu said.