ZHENGZHOU, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Ma Danna was unhappy when she received the letter accepting her to the local senior high school.
Instead of telling her parents about the letter, she hid it in a drawer. She knew they could not pay, and that was that. The school in rural Zhoukou, China's central Henan Province, would be out of bounds.
"I knew my family could not afford the tuition," Ma said.
Zhoukou is a traditional agricultural prefectural city, deeply impoverished with many families unable to afford to send their children to school.
To solve the problem, the city's education bureau has organized more than 12,000 teachers to become "educational village cadres," identifying poor students and offering them financial aid.
Xu Jinge is one of the teacher-turned cadres. Xu encouraged Ma to continue her dream of entering college, and contacted the senior high school issuing the admission letter. The school has agreed to exempt tuition and reduce other fees for Ma who has returned to school.
"Every child deserves to be educated, and it is our objective to avoid any children dropping out because of poverty," said Zhang Jianliang, head of Zhoukou education bureau.
From January to June 2018, the city provided 400 million yuan (58 million U.S. dollars) in assistance to 764,000 students from kindergarten to college.
China offers free education from elementary school to junior high, but students have to pay bills other than tuition, such as for accomodation and uniform.
Senior high and college students have to pay tuition up to thousands of yuan per year, an amount even more than the annual income of some poor households.
Educational village cadres also organize donations to poor families and mobilize farmers to attend training at vocational schools.
Zhou Hongtao, a cauliflower farmer in Liansi Township of Fugou County, earned an additional 10,000 yuan after agricultural training enabled him to grow cauliflower with a much higher yield.
"With the cauliflower plus the corn I grew, I made income several times more than previous years," Zhou said.
Ji Yongyun, a poverty alleviation official with the Zhoukou city education bureau, said the city had earmarked 5 billion yuan to improve teaching facilities, offer better compensation to teachers in rural schools and raise allowance to poor students in the next five years.
"Vocational education will also be enchanced so that impoverished people could be properly trained and make fortunes for their families," Ji said.
China aims to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020, with some 30 million rural people expected to be lifted out of poverty.
Liu Jibiao, Party chief of Zhoukou city, said educational village cadres for poverty alleviation would help poor students back to school and prevent passing poverty from one generation to the next.