LANZHOU, May 31 (Xinhua) -- After a 20-year absence, 40-year-old Wang Yongfu returned to school and chose two courses from an array of alternatives -- potato planting and sheep breeding.
He is among a group of farmers who have participated in a training program launched by the city of Dingxi, northwest China's Gansu Province, to help poor farmers master skills and start businesses.
The training system is lifting more and more people out of poverty in rural China.
Wang, born in Songchuan Village in Dingxi, used to work as a migrant worker. He had to return home two years ago because his family needed a laborer to do farming work.
On the barren and arid land, "it was difficult to make a fortune without any skills," he said.
Village cadres heard of his difficult situation and visited him with a list of various skill training courses.
"In the past, local people were reluctant to take part in training, regarding it as a waste of time," said Luo Jianguo, deputy director of the human resources and social security bureau in the city's Anding District.
But the local officials found a new way to attract attendees by printing 23 courses of seven categories on the calendars, distributing to every household.
The special calendar, about half a meter long, prints a wide variety of training courses at the bottom, such as "training for domestic workers" and "training in potato growing." Locals can choose training classes based on their needs.
At first, Wang did not believe that he could earn money after attending the training courses. But he finally decided to try when his neighbors dismissed his concerns telling him the courses were "pragmatic and easy to learn."
He attended potato planting and sheep breeding training classes in Dingxi polytechnic secondary school.
In the sheep breeding class, Wang, together with over 170 locals, learned knowledge such as epidemic prevention and forage ration from agricultural experts, and visited breeding enterprises.
Then he started his sheep breeding career with 18 sheep bought himself and five others offered free by the government.
He had a difficult start, as some of the sheep fell ill. With the help the experts overcame hardship and earned his first pot of gold, about 30,000 yuan (4,342 U.S. dollars) last year. Now, he owns more than 30 sheep and he is planning to expand the breeding scale.
Like Wang, many people in Dingxi earn more through taking training classes.
Ran Jiping, a resident from Daping village, can now earn extra hundreds of yuan each month by making hand-made tissue boxes at home, after attending related training courses. Last month, she managed to persuade several women in her village to join her in a knitting course.
Dingxi polytechnic secondary school trained more than 7,300 people in rural areas last year, and over 7,000 locals will attend the training courses this year.
The academy of agricultural science in Dingxi, another institution providing skill training, has offered a total of 11,000 attendees with learning opportunities by offering vivid "field classes."
China has set 2020 as the target year to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society and eradicating poverty. To achieve this goal, China needs to lift around 30 million poor rural residents out of poverty between 2018 and 2020.
Skill training has become an important channel for people in poverty-stricken areas to find a way out of poverty.
Some 1.63 million farmers have received skill training in southwest China's Guizhou Province, while more than 700 former migrant workers who returned to their hometown in Jialing district, Sichuan Province, have been reemployed by learning skills in evening schools.