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A Cultural Revolution

23 September 2009

When the independent new China was formally established in October 1949, among the total population of 550 million in China, 80 percent people were illiterate. In 1952, 1956 and 1958, Chinese government repeatedly launched free literacy-education campaigns, which were responded enthusiastically by 150 million participants. In the next five decades, the endeavour to reduce the illiteracy rate continued. Today Chinese enjoy nine-year free education, and the illiteracy rate in China has fallen to about 9 percent among all adults and below 4 percent in the young population.

The CCP's effort to free literacy-education began as early as during the years of the Resistance War Against Japanese Invasion. In the villages liberated by the Eight Route Army, the kids in Children's Corps would keep guard villages while teaching adults to learn reading and writing.

1951, two boys in Qinghai Province learn to read when minding their sheep.

1951, during the winter recess period, villagers in Ding County, Hebei Province, attend a literacy education class.

1951, the PLA soldiers learn sound code system of Chinese script during military training.

1952, village women in Shanxi Province attend an outdoor literacy learning class.

1955, villagers in Fu County, Liaoning Province, learn Chinese characters during the break of their farmland work.

1956, a young mother at Sile Village in Shanxi Province practicing letter writing while nursing her babies.

1957, at a free literacy education class at Fushuan (抚顺) Coal Mine in Liaoning Province, the teacher chats with her students. As many as 4,000 miners took part in the literacy campaign.

1958, peasant workers at Phoenix Reservoir in Yunnan Province learn Chinese reading during the break.

1958, daughters, mothers and grandma of a fisherman family practice writing in their tiny boat home. Before 1949, the illiteracy rate among the boat-living women in Fujian Province, the native land of the most Taiwan residents, was 100 percent.

1958, the students in a neighbourhood literacy education class in Beijing write new characters they just learned.

1958, village girl Ni Huaifeng in Sichuan receives a graduation certificate in literacy study. She created a record by memorising 1,500 Chinese characters in just ten days.

(Source of info/photos: 陈小波, 郭磊, 曹兴华, 沙飞, 陈之平, 王传国, 孙忠靖、游云谷, 岳国芳, 王少清, 李百顺 - 新华社)

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