• Move part of socialist countryside initiative
  • Hundreds of graduates volunteer service

    BEIJING: Beijing will send 3,000 university graduates to work as junior officials in rural areas this year, 1,000 more than last year, to help build a ``new socialist countryside'' and ease employment pressures.

    They would work as assistants to village heads on the outskirts of Beijing, said Sun Zhenyu, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Personnel. The move would help train more grass-roots professionals to serve the countryside and farmers, Mr. Sun said. Meanwhile, the city would select about 1,500 university graduates to serve as rural teachers and village doctors and another 1,500 to offer volunteer services this year, he said.

    The Central Government launched the ``new socialist countryside" initiative in 2005, in a bid to improve agricultural production, living standards and public administration in underdeveloped rural areas, where nearly 900 million of China's 1.3 billion population live. A string of measures have been taken to help build a ``new socialist countryside.''

    The Central Government issued a circular in July 2005, calling on university graduates to seek jobs at grass-roots levels to satisfy the need for professionals in rural areas and to ease the employment pressure in cities.

    ``Grass roots'' work has a wide meaning in China and includes working in the less developed western region, underprivileged towns and rural areas, urban communities, medium and small companies, and self-employment, all of which are traditionally seen as less prestigious after higher education. In response to the call, Beijing picked 2,000 university graduates to work as assistants to village heads in the countryside last year, Mr. Sun said. Nationwide, about 150,000 university graduates found employment at grass-roots level last year, according to the Ministry of Education.

    The Government-supported move also created more job opportunities for university students, who had found it increasingly difficult to find work in big cities.

    The ministry predicts 4.95 million students will graduate this year, 820,000 more than last year. Xinhua