The following details visits to two poor, rural primary schools. Read the original article here.
My colleagues and I visited 3 primary schools in Guojia Town, Qin’an Country in April 16, 2012. Let’s discuss the first school we arrived in:
At 8:40 in the morning we arrived at the first destination—Zhuwan Primary School. It was established on the same basis as a private school’s old style in Qing Dynasty. The family name of the people in the village and the villages around is Li. Therefore, Zhuwan Primary School was also known as Li’s Hall in the villages. So far, they have incomplete ancestral halls and walls in the school. The overall shape of the school is more like a quadrangle courtyard.
There were only two male teachers at the school. The old headmaster of the school was 58 years old. His family name was also Li. He had taught private schools and has been in the teaching business for 38 years, beginning at the age of 17. The other teacher, also Mr. Li, was about 35. He asked for leave the day we visited because his child was sick. There were 22 students, of which 14 were in Grade 1 and 8 in Grade 2. The students in Grade 3 or higher had to go to another school far from their village.
The office of the old headmaster was very simple. There were all kinds of documents on the wall besides just rules and regulations. The most expensive item in the office was the television, which served as special equipment for distance education of middle and primary school. They carried it out via satellite transmission. I will explain more details about the satellite pot later.
Through the gap of the locked doors, we saw that there were still 3 idle classrooms with desks and chairs full of dust. The school only had 24 students, making these classrooms seem more desolate. In fact the desolate scene worried me about the prospect of country primary education. Female teachers rarely were appointed to schools in mountainous areas. Most of the teachers were male and older. No wonder children felt so amazed to see us women. You could imagine that Xiao Chang and I were well received. It was unfortunate, though, that we didn’t have much time to be with children. After saying farewells to the old headmaster, we began our trip to the second destination-Shangchuan Primary School.
At a quarter past 10 we arrived at the Shangchuan Primary School. It would take 40 minutes to walk to Shangchuan Primary School from Zhuwan Primary School. There were 37 students in the school (from Grades 1 to 4). There were 11 in Grade 1, 6 in Grade 2, 7 in Grade 3 and 13 in Grade 4. Students in Grade 5 or higher had to study in another school. There were only 3 teachers whose surname was Li. The old headmaster was 59 years old and lived in the village. He had been taught in country schools for most of his life and was going to retire the next year. Da Li was 58 years old. It would take him an hour to walk from home to school. Four kinds of disease destroyed his health. Thus, the old headmaster had to teach all the classes while Da Li was in the hospital for a month. His English courses had to be stopped temporarily. Xiao Li was 35 and came in Shangchuan Primary School not too long after. It takes him more than one hour by motorbike from home to school.
--Article written by Yun Yu Jie, translated by Shishi Ma, edited by US intern Ally Nguyen.
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