It’s a family affair for Chinese migrant worker who finally fulfils his dream of going to university

Former labourer will become university’s oldest undergraduate as he begins classes alongside his 19-year-old daughter

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 3:54pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 4:49pm

A 51-year-old migrant worker in northern China has finally realised his dream of going to university – and will be attending classes alongside his daughter, according to media reports.

Peng Xianghu studied for the entrance exam while continuing to work and has finally been rewarded by becoming the oldest undergraduate ever admitted to Hebei University of Environmental Engineering, Thepaper.cn reported.

Peng, who grew up in a rural district of Hebei province, near the Taihang Mountains, had to drop out of high school even though he was getting good grades because his family could not afford to pay for his tuition.

He then spent three years in the army before working in dozens of odd jobs across the country, including spells as a mason, and selling fruit and vegetables.

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Peng struggled to find well-paid or stable employment and made anything from 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) to 70,000 yuan a year.

The report said that his experiences convinced him that education was the best way for his children to have a better life, so he sent them to the best schools he could.

It was only after his two sons had graduated from university, with one becoming a primary schoolteacher and the other pursuing a master’s degree, that Peng thought about continuing his own education.

“I am a farmer and life hasn’t been easy for the past 30 years. I worked hard but the lack of education was my disadvantage,” Peng told the website.

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Last November Peng signed up for the university entrance exam. He continued working while studying for the test, while his daughter approached the end of her time at high school.

“I haven’t studied for years. There is a lot going on around me and in my mind. I can’t stay focused,” Peng said.

He said the hardest subject for him was English. “I am really poor in English. I had to start from the alphabet – ABC,” he said.

He quit his job in February to prepare for the examination and finally his perseverance paid off when he was accepted by the university.

“My dad is really cool for quitting his job to go to university,” said his daughter Peng Songhua.

“He is my best role model.”