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College students act as trainee officials in Beijing's rural areas

A group of 60 college students from four Beijing-based universities started to act as practice officials in four of the city's outlying districts and counties on Tuesday.

The trainees will spend three months in the city's rural areas including Pinggu District and Yanqing County, where they are expected to use specialized skills to assist village heads, the Beijing News reported.

Fifteen trainees from China Agricultural University have been given the green light from the school authorities to submit an investigative report based on their field work, instead of a dissertation, when they apply for a bachelor's degree upon graduation in July.

"For example, they can focus on pesticides, grain production and other aspects of agricultural production in the villages they work," the metropolitan newspaper quoted university official Tan Yuzhi as saying.

Cheng Xuanhui, majoring in food and nutrition engineering, said he plans to concentrate on how farming may affect food security during his stay in Xiaotun village in Pinggu District.

Before their departure, the university's president Chen Zhangliang told the students to face up to difficulties and establish friendly and cooperative ties with local officials and villagers.

The trainees are also from Beijing Forestry University, Beijing Union University and Beijing Agricultural College.

The selected students stood out from thousands of first-time job hunters who wish to start a career in Beijing's rural areas that will offer 2,000 jobs this year, including village heads and assistant secretaries of village committees of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing's seven outlying districts and two counties.

"If they prove successful, they will be employed as grassroots officials in the villages; if not, they still have time to apply for other jobs," said Qu Zhenyuan, an official with the China Agricultural University.

Thousands of students have applied for the grassroots jobs since applications started in Beijing on Feb. 15.

Though their enthusiasm is widely hailed by the local media, many people doubt whether they will prove competent or stay long at the jobs.

"We can call it a success if 70 percent of the students stay at the grassroots jobs," said President Chen Zhangliang of China Agricultural University.

The Beijing Municipal Personnel Bureau said these village officials from colleges will be given priority if they wish to become public servants at the central government departments or go on to graduate school after three years of excellent work.


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