Farmers’ level of education has been raised, and their values have changed greatly

In the early 1950s, 70-80% of China’s agricultural labor force was illiterate or semi-illiterate. During the period of cooperatives, it was very difficult for a production team to even find an accountant. At that time, a higher primary school graduate, who returned to his or her hometown, was called a young intellectual. After more than 20 years of hard work, especially the development in the past 10 years of reform, the cultural quality of fanners has been greatly improved. According to the statistics of the national rural survey team, the educationallevel of every 100 rural laborers in 1986 was as follows: 0.06 with college-level education, 0.33 with special technical secondary school education, 6.872 with high school education, 28.58 with junior high school education, 38.02 with primary school education, and 26.14 illiterate and semi-illiterate people. Calculated at a rural labor force of 387.82 million in 1986, there are currently 26.1 million rural laborers with high school education and 108.6 million with junior high school education. At present, there are 6,490 high schools and 63,512 junior high schools in rural areas. The number of graduates from high school is 530,000 and from junior high school 6.68 million each year. There are 4,600 agricultural vocational secondary schools with 280,000 graduates annually In addition, there are more than 3 million adult farmers who attend broadcasting, correspondence, amateur, and other types of schools to raise their level of education and skills. According to the data of China Statistical Abstract in 1989, there were 108 million radios and 65.58 million television sets in rural areas across the country, and 79.75 million rural households are eqttipped with cable broadcasting. Through radio and television, the vast number of fanners are able to obtain various kinds of information, increase their knowledge, and broaden their horizons. Their cultural quality is constantly improving.

Over the past 10 years of rural reform, great changes have taken place in the ideology of the broad masses of fanners due to the readjustment of production relations, the development of commodity economy, the increase of production, and the improvement of living environment and conditions. Chinese fanners have long been shackled by the ideology of emphasizing the fundamental (agriculture) and restraining sidelines, and lived in a self-sufficient natural economy over a long period of time. During the time of cooperatives, they lived under the conditions of product economy characterized by collective production and unified distribution of products. They had a poor sense of commodity, despised commerce, and regarded it as inferior and unscrupulous. With rural reform and opening up, farmers find themselves being plunged into the powerful tonent of the commodity economy. The concept of commodity economy has gradually been established. Even in fann work, fanners have begun to learn to calculate costs, pay attention to input and output, and monitor the trend of the market. They compare what kind of crops make more money and yield more profits. If under the conditions of the people’s communes, they were only laboring fanners and became production farmers after the implementation of the household contract responsibility system, then many of them are trow managing-oriented farmers directly engaged in commercial activities. Not only in the eastern coastal areas, but also in the central and western regions, there are a lot of farmers doing business. Even fanners and herdsmen of etlmic minorities have taken to the streets and set up market stalls to sell goods and play with the “sliding weight.” In 1988, in our survey in a township bordering Linxian County in Shandong province, 90% of the fanners said that they would like to go out to work and do business if only they had the funds and opportunities.

Attaching importance to one’s native soil and not readily to migrate, loving one’s home village and loving one’s home, these are important traditional views

Sociology should pay attention to farmers 91 held by Chinese fanners. As the saying goes: “it is better to stay at home for a thousand days than to go out for one day.” Fanners are not willing to go out easily, let alone to migrate to other places. However, under the impact of commodity economy and due to the inducement of comparative advantage, the traditional view of not leaving one’s home village among fanners has been weakened, especially among young and middle-aged fanners. As long as they can leave farm work, move to cities, and make money, they are willing to go anywhere. Nowadays, it is estimated that more than 20 million fanners have nished into cities and towns to work and do business or moved to remote areas to search for gold or to be miners. More fanners are looking for opportunities to migrate. The objective existence of the gap between workers and fanners and between urban and rural areas is the driving force behind farmers’ inclination to leave agriculture. The purpose of fanners leaving the land and their homes is to obtain more benefits through work and business. The next goal is to convert their agricultural registration status to non-agricultural registration status and to become urban residents, regular workers or cadres, and to have a stable income, which was known as holding an iron rice bowl, and enjoy public medical care. Some fanners struggle all their lives for this goal without achieving it in their lifetime. Just before death, one fanner asked his children to cremate the specially drawn urban resident pennit, employee’s card, and public medical certificate after his death in front of his tablet in hope of becoming an urban resident in the underworld. Others are more realistic. Unable to leave farm work themselves, they put their hope on their children. Among the 165 fanners we interviewed in the townships bordering Linxian County, 83% hope that their children could be admitted into secondary' vocational schools or universities, as this is the only reliable channel to “convert agricultur al registration to non-agricultural registration.”

Traditionally, Chinese fanners loved their land and tried to maintain what had been achieved by their forefathers. Farmland was regarded as their lifeblood. But after nearly 40 years of continuous change in land ownership and management rights, fanners’ feelings of attachment to land has been weakened. With the implementation of fixed output quotas on household basis, farmers obtain the autonomy to manage the contracted land. It has been explicitly stipulated that this will remain unchanged for 15 years and the management right may be inherited, as well as transferred. However, fanners always feel that the contracted land is not their own. They are unwilling to work hard on the land and to carry out capital construction on farmland as their capacity allows. Even when they have money, they will not invest in land. The fact that they generally' apply less or no organic fertilizers is an obvious example of this. But why do fanners in many places, who are engaged in industrial and commercial activities with income enough to meet the needs of life, still refuse to return the contracted land to the collectives or transfer it? This is because these fanners are still afraid of policy changes. Once not allowed to engage in industrial and commercial activities or in case of business failure, they still have the contracted land as a place to settle down. That’s why they refuse to transfer the land. This is not a sign that fanners cherish their laud. Once they' feel that the policies of the state and their income from industrialand commercial activities are both stable, it is not difficult for them to give up their land.

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