China: Jianhua Wang

To this, my whole heart I have given, and from it, not a rock I shall keep. Tao Xin Zhi, the great educator, has shown us the way. We shall only do better.

— Jianhua Wang

Wang Jianhua is one of the most influential people in private education in China. Since quitting her government job in 1989, she has invested every penny of her own and her family’s to establish the Xin Zhi Women's Vocational School, which caters especially for young women from villages and rural areas. In the past 15 years the school has helped thousands of young women to find jobs, enabling them to pursue their dreams.

In Zhejiang Province, Wang Jianhua, an ordinary woman, has received public attention for her extraordinary achievements in education. In the late 1980s many young women were unable to get an education after junior high school because of a scarcity of resources. "Financial difficulties" was the usual excuse for parents to stop paying tuition fees for their daughters, and to ask them to work instead. This cruel reality of young women’s lives deeply saddened Wang Jianhua and motivated her to resign from her secure government job in order to start fund-raising for a school for young women. Wang believes that the best way to help women is to help them learn skills that can earn them a living, and, at the same time, to encourage them to be independent and to serve society. She rented premises, hired teachers, and recruited students while raising her baby daughter. The number of students at the school has gone up from 70 to almost 3000. And from a tiny roofless classroom, the school has become a campus of 30,000 square meters. Some 10,000 students have graduated from her school, and she has realized her goal of “supporting a family through a graduate.”

Xin Zhi Women's Vocational School