19 children go to school in decrepit building, use coffin as seats

| April 24th, 2011

From Netease | translated by Jue | Edited by Key

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Jialun Teaching Point of Jiutian Primary School in Duan County (Yao autonomous county) lies in the deep mountains. It takes at least 4 hours to go out there and return. There used to be a well equipped primary school before March, 2007, but the school building was torn down because it was dilapidated and the new school was not finished yet. Therefore, Jiutian Primary School has to rent a “classroom” with walls that leak air from a villager at the price of 100 yuan each semester. One teacher had been teaching 3 classes of total 19 students there for 4 years.

Poverty: Rice is only for the guests

On April 21st, by the time the reporter arrived at Jiudu County from Nanning at 4:00pm, the people who run the private buses to Jiutian Village had already been off work. So the reporter had to rent a motorcycle to go to the Party Secretary of Jiutian Village, Wei Kefu’s home.

When Wei heard the reporter was going to Jialun Village in deep mountains, he found a villager to lead the reporter into the mountains. They spent over 2 hours tramping over 2 mountains on foot and when they finally arrived at Jialun Village, it was completely dark.

That night, the reporter stayed at the team leader Ban Shaoji’s house, having a bowl of rice with soybeans cooked in salt water with 4 other workers from Xinhui Color Steel Tile Plant factory in Heci City who came here to build a simple building for the school. The villagers told the reporter that only corn is planted here, and the rice is bought from outside the mountains. People here only have corn porridge and the rice is for guests. Moreover, the corn is planted in the stone cracks on the slopes which will wither if there’s drought without raindrops. Therefore, the government must appropriate grain as relief every March and April to solve villagers’ food problem.

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Rough conditions: Children use coffin as their seats

At 7:00 am next morning, it was said that the only teacher of this elementary school, Wei Mingfu, was on the way here from Jiutian Village. The reporter met the 48 year old man in a badly slanted house. The reporter learned that Wei crosses mountains here every morning from Jiutian Village where he lives, to give lessons and goes home on foot after school. He has done this for 9 years.

According to Wei, this school used to be a well equipped primary school which was first built in 1953 and was torn down in March, 2007 because the building was certified as a dilapidated one of D Level. After that, Jialun Primary School was downgraded to a Teaching Point which rents a room as the classroom next to the old school from a villager at the price of 100 yuan each semester. Now there are 19 students including 7 in the preschool class, 5 in first Grade and 7 in second Grade. They all come from other villages within 10km.

The reporter noticed that the classroom of this teaching point is a bamboo house with walls that leak air.  The house is badly slanted and may collapse at any time. The wooden boards on the floor need repairing long time ago, so if you don’t step on it quietly, the rotten wooden board will crack and hurt children’s feet. According to locals, a child once fell into the sheepfold from the classroom, fortunately he was not injured badly.

There’s no desk and chair in the classroom so the students have to bring them from their homes, we can see different desks and chairs in the classroom. The landlord’s mother is about 80 years old and the family has made her a coffin, but now they lend it to the students as their chairs to solve the seating problem.

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Sad: Children do not eat lunch

Around 8am, the students came to school one after another. Then after school at noon, they played around the classroom instead of going back home.

The reporter asked Wei why the children didn’t go back home to have lunch, Wei said they are too young and their homes are too far. He also said except for those who live nearby, most of the children don’t go back for lunch. Then, how do they eat lunch? Wei answered, they don’t have lunch and they go back home for supper directly after school at 4:30pm. He added that he also doesn’t eat lunch like the students.

Before going to the mountains, the reporter heard that there is no store in Jialun Village, people have to walk out of mountains for hours to buy some daily necessities even like salt. So the reporter bought 10 packs instant noodle and some snacks. At noon, the reporter requested Wei to take some dried firewood from the villagers to make instant noodles. Wei declined many times, saying it was not a big deal and the children had got used to it. After the reporter’s persistent request, the 12 children who didn’t have lunch had instant noodle with some snacks.

Hope: The new school building will be finished by the middle of May

Yesterday morning, the reporter came to the Bureau of Education of Duan Yao Autonomous County, interviewing the office chief Lan Qikang who’s in charge of the improvement of teaching equipment.

When it comes to the reason why the school building project of Jialun Teaching Point lasted 4 years and the building was till not finished yet, Lan said, the second reform project of dilapidated building in 2006 planed to build 60 square kilometers of school building using brick-concrete structure for Jialun Teaching Point, and asked Jiudu County to carry it out. But the village is too remote without a road which cars can run, so no construction teams were willing to take it. Lan added, no one took the bid when the government invited public bidding, so the county government only had to negotiate with the headmaster of Jiutian Primary School, Wei Peiqiang, who are in charge of this project. Till now it has only finished 40% of its total work.

Besides, there are some other reasons including that people didn’t contribute to the project actively. This teaching point covers over 10 villages, involving the administrative interest of Jiutian and Jiuguang village. Not only these two villages have different choices for the site, but also Jialun, Jiacan, Jiahe, Mianshang, Mianxia, Huaguan, Jiuliu Villages which belong to Jiutian Village held different opinions. They all think the new school should be built near their villages. Therefore, the project didn’t meet villagers’ demand so they refused to help building the school which caused the project to shutdown many times. And 7 tons of cement alone was scrapped because the weather was humid and the cement was out of date.

However, the issue of Jialun Teaching Point has drawn attention of education departments of the city and county. On the April 22nd afternoon, the chief of Hechi Bureau of Education, Lu Cheng, held a meeting in Jiudu County and went into the mountains on foot to investigate and finally made the decision that the new school will be built at the same location of the old one. He also proposed to increase the budget and the project will probably be finished by the middle of this May.

Before the new school is finished, the County Bureau of Education invited the installation company from Hechi City to build a simplified wooden board house first. On the 18th, the reporter saw the villagers help carry the material for building and the house was finished through people’s support.

Yesterday, the reporter received the news from Jiudu County that the teacher and students in Jialun Teaching Point had moved into the temporary simple wooden house which was just finished in the morning.

9 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Curren$y says:

    Poor kids. :( Where are they going to sit once the landlord’s mother dies?

  2. michel says:

    Great story , very sad , but thanks for bringing it

  3. Crystal says:

    So sad that the problems can be solved quickly only when media draws attention to them.

    • michel says:

      HI Crystal media often helps , getting focus on a problem and will solve that problem , what makes me sad is the other places where nobody will write about it , and no solutions are found .

      But i guess we all could do our own share to improve things

  4. jw says:

    ingenious!
    now that is a creative way to make grand-dad useful, no wonder the Chinese are storming ahead of their western peers.

  5. Xino says:

    this is terrible man.

    China is still a poverty place, the Chinese governments just suck up to the white man’s ass and overwork their workers in order to serve and please white men.

    The government are busy sucking up to the white man’s ass rather than improving the poorer areas in china.

  6. PaulV says:

    May god belss them all…

  7. PaulV says:

    May God bless them all…

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