The opportunities for Mosuo students to gain a higher level education are extremely minimal, and they face many challenges. Grades one and two of primary school are the easiest, as almost every village has a local school for the students there. However, the teachers at these schools are often volunteers, who don't have much education themselves; and teaching is exclusively in Mandarin Chinese, but many of the students have not learned Chinese before this, and speak only the Mosuo language. This also puts them at a significant disadvantage, and can discourage students.
Grades three to six are a little more centralized, with students from surrounding communities traveling to get to the school. For students who live farther away, this can be a significant barrier. Not only do they have to walk many kilometers over mountain paths, but they may have to pay for room and board at the school if they are too far away to travel back and forth every day.
This cost, as minimal as it is, can still be too much for many families to support, especially if they have several children.
Next, there are three years of junior high school. There are fewer junior high schools, which means that students often have to travel even farther to go to school; and tuition costs are higher as well. This is followed by three years of senior high school, which again is often even farther away, and costs yet more money.
It is little wonder, then, that few Mosuo students complete senior high school. And getting into university is even more of a challenge; in fact, fewer than 0.1% of Mosuo students will make it to university.
Our goal is to set up projects that improve the opportunity – and lessen the cost – for Mosuo students to get a good education, and to have access to higher levels of education. We will do this both through direct financial aid in the form of scholarships, and through providing resources and materials to assist their education.
We are not, as an organization, directly involved in the building of new schools. We are, however, very happy to work with any organizations who wish to do so, and will be happy to lend whatever support we can to such projects.
One of our primary goals is to provide scholarships to promising students, in order to encourage them to continue in their education, and to decrease the financial burden on their families. Specific amounts will vary, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the specific situation of each student.
In order to qualify, students must have and maintain a minimum 75% grade average (80% for senior high school). Scholarships, depending on the situation, may include funds to cover:
- cost of tuition
- cost of room & board
- cost of travel
- cost of books
- small stipend for student's family
These scholarships will be given free of charge, with no expectation of reimbursement; however, they will be subject to review, twice each year, to determine whether students are maintaining the minimum requirements for sponsorship.
In cases where donors are interested to do so, we would also be happy to provide pictures and biographical information on the student(s) they are supporting, regular updates as to their progress, and even correspondence with the students. We also hope to set up periodic trips to the Lugu Lake region for sponsors, where they can meet the students they have sponsored face-to-face, and see their schools.
Resources & materials
Due to the financial limitations of schools and students alike, many students have no access to quality materials or resources. For example, they may be using textbooks that are 10 or 15 years out of date; or they may not have computers; or they may not have suitable audio-visual equipment for learning English.
However, for students to enter senior high school, or university, they must pass examinations both on computers, and in English. Obviously, this creates a significant barrier for Mosuo students seeking to further their education.
We plan to do our best to provide such materials and resources to as many schools as possible. In some cases, we will buy these things ourselves; in other cases, we hope that others will donate suitable equipment (for example, a company that is buying new computers could donate its older computers to a school). The primary resources and materials we seek to provide are:
- audio-visual equipment
- DVDs of educational materials and programs
In the cases of some of the smaller and more remote schools, funds may also be used to buy electric generators, or even things as basic as chairs, desks, and writing supplies for the students.
If you would like more information about this, please contact us, or take a look at our discussion forums to give your ideas and input.