|Qinhai Province Sala Girls Middle School
Community Council Meeting
Xunhua County is located in the east of Qinhai Province. There are
14 different ethnic groups including a majority 60.3 % of Sala, and
minorities such as Han, Tibetan, Muslim, Dongxiang, Manchu and other
nationalities make up their population of 113, 013. The county is
listed as one of the poorest counties by the government. The per capital
income in 1998 was RMB720; the overall income of the county was RMB8,
260,000, 27% of its expenses.
The county's school finance solely depended on the central government.
At the end of 1998, lack of funding led to a school enrollment rate
of 93.1% for elementary school age children, 84.1% for girls, and
78 % for Sala girls. However, entering middle school and high school
rate among girls was 40% and 19%. Local officials aimed at the completion
of six-year mandatory schooling for all children.
Sala girls' education was so behind that they became a group who received
unfair social status and high unemployment rate.
In the fall of 1999, the Phelex Foundation and Finnish Embassy in
China worked together and established two projects: Phelex/Kallio
Tuition Assistance and Phelex/Rutanen Spice Garden.
The Phelex Foundation persuaded villagers, especially mothers to participate
in the decision-making process, which took place during community
council meetings. In December 29, 1999, 53 representatives including
29 women attended the first meeting. 5 women and 6 men were elected
to form a committee, which would be responsible for school projects
and related issues such as project supervision, management, tuition
assistance' distribution and the fairness in all.
Mr. Han Yongdong, the head of the local education bureau, indicated
that the Foundation's projects provided opportunities for women to
take part in social events that promote women's confidence and social
Mr. Ma Fengsheng, a county official who is also a Sala, pointed out
that for the first time Sala women participated in such a social event,
and it finally broke the old tradition that Sala women's roles were
limited in their housekeeping duties, and educating children was not
a mother's responsibility. Now Sala mothers joined the committee and
make decisions for the benefit of their children and themselves. This
amazing change would accelerate the overall progress of Sala people's
As of today, a few years have passed. Newer participants have replaced
some committee members, but the community council is a well-run system
that has been continuing.
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