Learning new ways to deliver education to remote students
Primary school students in China's remote mountainous areas are enjoying a better education thanks to the implementation of supportive policies in recent years.
Here is a glimpse at the measures undertaken to improve learning and provide better educational facilities.
Feeding their knowledge
Zhang Zhanliang is not only a principal but also a "cook".
In 2018, Zhang was appointed the principal of the Huangni Primary School in the village of Huangni, East China's Jiangxi province. The school has just over 20 students.
There was no canteen and many students had to bring lunch boxes as they lived far from school. By the time lunch rolled around the meals would be cold.
To ensure students had a hot meal, Zhang decided to make lunch for his students in the playground.
"I was afraid of rainy days, because it meant we could not cook," he says. "My biggest wish at the time was to have a proper kitchen."
Zhang's dream was realized in 2019 after the local education department allocated a special fund of over 200,000 yuan ($30,000) to build a 38-square-meter kitchen for the school. Gas stoves and ovens were donated by local companies.
So far, the local education department has appropriated more than 200,000 yuan to the school to cover mealtime.
"Lunchtime is one of the happiest times of the day for students," says Zhang.
Statistics from the Ministry of Education show China's total investment in education, including free meals and improving school facilities, has increased by more than 8 percent annually over the past three years.
Getting ahead in the cloud
As the new semester began in September, students in the Third Wanquan Primary School in Lanping county, situated deep inside a valley in Southwest China's Yunnan province, had a special class.
About 50 grade-three students had their first online class on folk arts, taught by a teacher from a Beijing elementary school, thousands of kilometers away from the county.
After the bell rang, students sang a local song to greet their teacher in Beijing. "It never occurred to me that a teacher in Beijing could teach us," says He Shujie, a grade-three student.
The online class epitomizes the digitalization of educational infrastructure in China.
In 2019, there were 11.4 computers for every 100 students in Chinese primary schools, and 68.7 percent of these schools had internet access.
No child left behind
Ahead of classes every morning, Geng Qin, a teacher in Yukakbzichi Primary School, disinfects every corner of the classroom and prepares the masks that will be handed out to students.
The school, located in the city of Aksu, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, suspended classes during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Before the school reopened in September, teachers called every student to inquire about their health. The school also prepared sufficient pandemic prevention materials to ensure the safety of students after classes resumed.
"We will never let a child drop out of school because of the pandemic, and will do our best to ensure their safety during this challenging time," says Wang Le, headmaster of the school.
Extracurricular activities are encouraged at the Fanjia Primary School in the city of Guangyuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province.
Whether it is planting vegetables or visiting cultural relics, every Wednesday, teachers lead 55 pupils－most of whom are children left behind by parents who are migrant workers or from impoverished households－to learn something new outside the classroom.
On a plot of farmland in front of the school, several "automatic drip irrigation devices" created by pupils from plastic cans are being used.
Extracurricular activities, as an extension of classroom learning, can better shape pupils' personalities and improve their ability to analyze and solve problems, says Zhang Pingyuan, principal of the primary school.
In 2018, about 220,000 teachers, including about 40,000 specialized in music, sports, arts, science, and information technology, were added to the country's ranks of educators for the comprehensive development of students.