Meet the Organization Serving Underprivileged Students in China

By Joshua Cawthorpe, April 30, 2021

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Full House is a regular series where we speak with a notable individual from China’s education industry.

The importance of education in China is no surprise, but some key areas of inequality have been highlighted across the education sector in recent years. 

For starters, only a fraction of China’s labor force graduates from high school. A comprehensive study by education startup Zuoyebang and Beijing Normal University also revealed a noticeable difference in the difficulty of math problems between wealthy first-tier city neighborhoods and poor city districts and rural areas. 

With 73% of China’s primary and middle school students residing in third- to sixth-tier cities and rural towns, education inequality needs to be addressed in a more pressing manner.

Several initiatives have sprung up to begin bridging the equity gap in education. One such program, founded in 2013, is the Canadian International Education Organization (CIEO) Education Fund, which was established in partnership with the Foshan Children’s Welfare Association to provide support and resources to families and underfunded schools in rural areas. 

The fund aims to address some of these vulnerabilities and create opportunities for students that might otherwise fall through the cracks. 

We reached out to CIEO Deputy Brand Director Hu Xiaohong to learn how they are helping students from far and near.

CIEO-for-the-brand-1-1.jpgCIEO Deputy Brand Director Hu Xiaohong

How long has the charity been operating?
The CIEO Education Foundation is a private foundation approved by the Guangdong Provincial Civil Affairs Bureau in 2013, to provide help to underprivileged children. So far, it has been operating for eight years. 

As an educational group, CIEO will always stick to the philosophy we believe in – ‘Education is Love.’ CIEO believes that in addition to transferring knowledge to children, it is more important to let children learn to be grateful, understand generosity and be willing to help others in need. Cultivating social responsibility and compassion is as important as cultivating knowledge.


What were the foundation’s goals last year and did the epidemic change the desired outcomes
Being private, the CIEO Education Foundation does not have a specific fundraising goal, but the purpose of the foundation has always been to support the education of children in need. Each year, the foundation develops a plan for how to carry out projects and how best to respond to the current circumstances. 

In the face of COVID-19, the CIEO Education Foundation launched a special fundraising initiative for CIEO family members to ‘Cheer for Wuhan,’ and raised nearly RMB80,000 in just a few days. All the funds raised were donated to the Guangzhou Charity Association to support the epidemic prevention and control work in Wuhan.


During the outbreak, the foundation’s other projects continued as scheduled. CIEO Education Foundation donated a library to the Guangdong Provincial Education Foundation. It also donated daily supplies for students at Jiayi Central School, located in Sichuan’s Jinyang county, and then donated financial aid to the Foshan Children’s Welfare Association’s project – ‘Care for Children· Let the Dream Fly.’ Lastly, the foundation also donated educational equipment and facilities to the Women’s Federation of Panyu District, Guangzhou.

“Cultivating social responsibility and compassion is as important as cultivating knowledge”

What is the criteria and selection process for determining which students/regions will receive support?
The CIEO Education Foundation’s funding and public welfare activities are centered on supporting education by funding teaching facilities and equipment in remote mountainous areas and providing assistance to families and children in need. We will provide financial aid to students who are excellent in both character and study as well as reward excellent teachers. Each year, the CIEO Education Foundation’s Board of Directors will decide which projects to support in consultation with the city and district charity associations.

Can you tell us about the goals for the coming year?
In 2021, the CIEO Education Foundation will continue to support 10 children from families in need in Foshan, 10 children from families in Guangzhou as well as families in Gaozhou. Furthermore, the foundation also plans to help schools in Guizhou’s Bijie city and other rural primary schools by donating libraries, educational supplies, multimedia equipment and other resources.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Click here for more Full House.

[Images via CIEO]

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