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  Village officials attend university to expand leadership capabilities  



Confucius once said that by the age of 40, people rarely suffer from perplexities and frustrations.

  JINAN, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Confucius once said that by the age of 40, people rarely suffer from perplexities and frustrations.

  However, 2,000 years later, some 1,000 middle-aged village officials in the city of Zoucheng in east China's Shandong Province are scratching their heads as they plow through rigorous academic programs.

  The untraditional students attend school from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 in the evening. For most of them, realizing their lifelong dream of attending university is something to be cherished.

  More than 1,000 village officials from 887 villages in Shandong are now going through training programs at Shandong University. The programs are designed to enhance their leadership capabilities and show them how to turn their villages into prosperous, thriving areas.

  "It is a real study, with both theory and practical methods," said Gong Fanghua, Party secretary of the village of Shimen.

  The program's courses cover democratic practices at grassroots levels, village management, law enforcement, rural policies and agricultural industry.

  "This is a great chance for me to get a better grasp of the central government's policies. I will practice the things I've learned in my own village," Gong said.

  The officials will receive college-level training, conducting topic studies, case analyses and field studies to supplement the time they spend in class.

  In China, there are about 600,000 villages, with millions of village officials. These officials lead a population of 900 million rural people, making them an essential part of the Communist Party of China (CPC)'s efforts to develop the country's rural areas.

  It is of critical importance for China to cultivate, utilize and manage its village officials in an efficient manner. According to Zheng Fengtian, a professor with the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, village officials are the cornerstone of China's rural development.

  As the nerve endings of the CPC, it is critical to shape a strong team of successful, well-trained village officials, Zheng said.

  Zhi Zhohua, Party secretary of Zoucheng, said that sending the village officials to college will enhance their ability to lead and improve their understanding of national policies. The college training program will be carried out annually in the future, Zhi added.

  In fact, Zoucheng is not the first city in China to undertake such a program. The city of Mianyang in southwest China's Sichuan Province has implemented a similar college-level training program for village officials as well.

  Many village officials don't get the chance to receive higher training, as they grow up in the villages that they end up leading. However, the college training programs will help them to systemize and standardize the experience they already have, said Li Tiegang, a professor with the training program at Shandong University.





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