Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma praises rural teachers for their educational passion and ‘belief in the future’ in annual address

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma praises rural teachers for their educational passion and ‘belief in the future’ in annual address

Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding, has praised the mentality of rural teachers in China and their “belief in the future”, in a message of public support from the increasingly reclusive Chinese billionaire.

In a videotaped speech issued by the Jack Ma Foundation on Thursday, Ma – a former teacher himself – is seen speaking to a group of rural Chinese teachers, expressing his admiration for their efforts to bring out the creativity, curiosity and confidence of students amid challenging conditions in the countryside.

Ma, 59, praises their “sincere passion for education” and their “belief in the future”, according to excerpts of his comments issued by the Foundation.

Ma, who has maintained a low profile since stepping down as chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2019, has met with Chinese rural teachers in the run up to the Chinese Lunar New Year for nine years in a row.

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The Jack Ma Rural Teachers Initiative and Jack Ma Rural Teachers Award were officially launched on September 16, 2015. Every year, 100 outstanding rural teachers are shortlisted and granted 100,000 yuan (US$14,260) each to support rural education, according to the Foundation’s website. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

In recent years Ma has advocated for agricultural and educational development, as well as environmental protection. Ma, who signed off with a guitar and a rock star wig at a farewell event for thousands of employees in 2019, has pursued several educational causes, including the Rural Principal Initiative, launched in 2016, and the Pre-Service Teachers and Rural School Initiative, both launched in 2017.

The projects have fostered 120 rural principals, enlisted 800 pre-service teachers, and revamped 63 boarding schools in rural areas.

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