Chinese rural kids struggle to attain proper education

World Today

China said it’s going to eradicate poverty in the country by 2020. One way to achieve that is through education, but many children in the countryside are struggling to attain just the basics.

CGTN’s Tao Yuan reports.

Chinese rural kids struggle to attain proper education

Chinese rural kids struggle to attain proper education

China said it’s going to eradicate poverty in the country by 2020. One way to achieve that is through education, but many children in the countryside are struggling to attain just the basics. CGTN's Tao Yuan reports.

Twenty-year-old Zhang Ershi is one of many children whose education ended early in Liangshan, one of the poorest regions of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

“I quit school after graduating third grade. My teacher didn’t think I was very good anyway,” Zhang said.

He saw nothing unusual with dropping out, as modern social rules don’t necessarily apply here.

Liangshan, the economic backwater of China, is a world away from the fast development in megacities of the country. Its isolation caused by the harsh mountainous terrain, but also the different language and culture of the Yi ethnic minority.

Last year, the story of the so-called “cliff village” made headlines across the world. For the children in these photos, every journey to school is a risky ordeal.

Zhang quit school after seeing one of his classmates drown while crossing a river on his way to school. Now, he spends much of his time idling around.

“When these children find work, there’s nothing high-end that they can do,” said Pan Chengying, one of China’s three-thousand-member-strong lawmaking bodies, the National People’s Congress. She is a Liangshan local and she has concerned herself with education in the region.

“Education should be on the forefront of China’s poverty alleviation efforts. There’s widespread and deep poverty in our region. How can our kids go out to see the world without knowledge? And even if they do, how do they stand on their own feet? Education is the only way,” Pan said.

She founded two modern kindergartens in her hometown. Many of her children are from nearby impoverished villages.

Similar emphasis on education is picking up speed across the region, but the fight for better education is far from over.

Ershi took us deep into the mountains and we met more children. They were eager to show us the Mandarin poems they can recite. But still, they speak only the Yi language.

As education in cities and towns gets better, the children in China’s villages are still waiting for better teachers and better schools.