• China's rural educational system is underdeveloped.

China's rural educational system is underdeveloped. (Photo : Getty Images)

The "Touching China" awardee is Zhi Yueying, a 55-year-old teacher who has been teaching in a rural school in Jiangxi Province for the past 40 years.

Upon receiving the award, she describes herself as "just an ordinary person doing ordinary things". She was honored for her contribution to the country and in the field of rural education in China.

Like Us on Facebook

The "Touching China" awards is an annual event hosted by the China Central Television to recognize various members of society and their heroic roles in Chinese society.

She started teaching at age 19 in a rural school located in the mountains of Fengxian county at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. The nearest town is 45 km away.

"Children in the mountains have no idea about the outside world, so knowledge is their only hope of leaving," she said.

Aside from teaching, she also helps in paying tuition fees of poor children, which was hard for her with her low salary. She was dedicated to her profession that contributed to society outside the classroom.

She was married in 1982 but had to move 50 km up the mountains. She had to be separated from her husband.

Later, she was promoted to headmaster. She taught math and arts and drove in her motorcycle to bring in new equipment for the school.

She would later teach herself how to use the computer to bring in "ideas from the outside world" to the school.

In 2012, she was assigned to a poor upland community in Baiyang in Fengxian county. She said that she persisted in fulfilling the post because she couldn't leave the kids without learning.

"Children in the mountains are my children too," she said. "I am the daughter of the mountains and I will not stop teaching, so long as my health allows."

The system for rural education in China has been neglected. According to a study by the Asian Development Bank, "China has an urban-rural gap of close to three years of education."