A young man from Anhui province who was once too poor to finish high school has now entered a doctoral studies programme thanks to scholarships from a special educational charity foundation. Project Hope student Zhang Zongyou was already enrolled in a PhD programme at Nanjing University, and expected soon to start courses in classical Chinese literature, Xinhua reported. 'Project Hope has changed my life, and I will use my knowledge and talent to repay the motherland and society,' Mr Zhang was quoted as saying. Although he was an impressive student and passed the requisite examinations, the student's family in Jinzhai county could no longer afford the cost of his primary education by 1990. He was left with no option but to drop out of school until funding from Project Hope allowed him to resume his studies. After Mr Zhang graduated from high school in 1992, he was awarded a special Project Hope scholarship to attend Anhui's Fuyang Normal College. He was then accepted into Jiangsu province's prestigious Nanjing University for his master's degree after completing undergraduate studies. Mr Zhang has now earned the distinction of becoming the first Project Hope student to pass post-graduate examinations and has been accepted into a doctoral studies programme. Although the Project Hope programme was initiated by the China Youth Development Foundation in 1989 with the primary purpose of helping young, impoverished children attend school, it has also offered some scholarships and grants to older students such as Mr Zhang. Thanks to domestic and international donations totalling 1.5 billion yuan (HK$1.39 billion) since the plan's inception, more than two million primary school students have been able to return to school.