EVERY year, thousands of party cadres from the Communist Party of China (CPC) returned to school to learn about the latest direction of the country as it progresses.
At the Party School of CPC Central Committee (CCPS) – the key cradle of China’s leaders – the trainees are taught Marxism classics, moral and conduct while receiving anti-corruption education.
They are also exposed to the latest in technology and various skills to lead the rural villagers out of poverty as the nation is striving towards its “Chinese Dream” of building a well-off society for all.
Located opposite the Summer Palace in Beijing, the school also conducts training and guidance to improve the governing ability of cadres while motivating them to serve as firm followers and loyal practitioners of Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
Just last year, 137 training sessions were organised for nearly 11,000 cadres all over the country.
The school opened its door to a group of foreign journalists recently.
We were led to a class which was in progress and the trainer, who requested to remain anonymous, was giving a lecture on various transformation and innovation programmes to improve the environment and livelihood of rural villagers.
During the short visit, we listened in on the trainer telling cadres about the use of flush toilets.
For many of us, we have taken for granted the availability of flush toilets in our homes or offices.
But for those dwelling in the mountainous areas far from water sources in China, this sanitary ware is a luxury.
The locals from a village in Shangdong have invented their own “dry toilet” in which they covered up waste with organic materials.
“The toilet does not stink at all and it is environmentally friendly.
“A little effort makes big changes in improving the environment and the people’s lives,” the trainer told the cadres, believed to be grassroots leaders from the rural areas.
The trainer also told the class the story of a village in Tonglu of Zhejiang province where the locals turned their rural agricultural home into a famous tourist spot.
He said the locals successfully transformed an abandoned pig pen into a popular cafe.
“There is a very expensive type of coffee known as mao shi kafei (Indonesia’s kopi luwak) in the world.
“If rich people can sit at a stinking pig pen while tasting a cup of expensive coffee, isn’t this another way of enjoyment?” asked the trainer.
He was motivating the class cadres to be creative and to transform abandoned poultry farms into money-making businesses as well as preserve old buildings that have witnessed special events.
The trainer also showed the class modern farming techniques known as the Integrated Rice-Duck Farming by raising ducks in the paddy field.
“With modern technology, we are able to calculate the suitable number of ducks for a paddy field of a particular size and the timing of releasing the birds,” he added.
With over 100 trainees but only a handful of female cadres, the class also learned about homestay and handicraft-making programmes.
In a tea session with the media, vice-head of academic affairs of the school, Wang Gang said currently, there are some 1,600 cadres undergoing training at the campus.
Asked why men outnumbered women trainees by a large margin, Wang Gang said they have another programme catering for female cadres.
He, however, did not elaborate.
The CCPS – also known as China National Academy of Governance – was set up in 1933, 12 years after the founding of the CPC.
Over the decades, it has groomed a large number of governing elites and talent for the party and the country.
State leaders such as the late Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi and Hu Jintao have served as its president.
The CCPS campus houses a museum, a sports centre with various facilities including swimming pool, squash court, ping pong tables and a gym for the trainees, who are required to stay in the campus throughout their training period.
Apart from providing training to the cadres, the CCPS also serves as a high-end think-tank for the party and a national research institution for philosophy and social science.
It has also taken part in exchange programmes and activities with political parties from 159 nations, 21 international and multilateral organisations.
Last year, the school received 1,248 visitors.
CPC, with over 90 million members, is the biggest political party in the world.