CHINA> Regional
Sino-Korean charity to rebuild primary school
By Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-17 09:17

A Sino-Korean charity program to rebuild a primary school is reviving hopes for a community in Dongxiang, northwestern Gansu province, one of the poorest counties in China.

South Korean clothing brand EXR signed a cooperative agreement with China Daily to launch the 400,000 yuan poverty relief program yesterday.

"It is about love and we would not cut one coin from the charity program in wake of the global economic crisis," said Weon Chang-Seok, the manager director of EXR, yesterday in Beijing.

"As a foreign company in China, we hope to get involved in the country's culture by sharing our commitment for social responsibility."

Yang Rucheng, 47, the headmaster of Shishancun Primary School of Dongxiang, told China Daily yesterday that the new school, to be built in October, will help improve its enrollment rate, which has been decreasing due to shabby facilities.

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"We have 105 students right now, but the number was 175 one year ago," he said.

A few of the 70 students who quit school transferred to another primary school in a nearby county, but they had to climb about 10 kilometers on mountainous paths to get there, he said.

"But many more children chose to stay at home as their parents who work in other provinces could not accompany them to climb the mountain," he said.

The school has only one classroom for 106 primary students ranging from the first to sixth grades, and has one office shared by nine teachers in the school. The new school will have six classrooms and four offices.

Villagers built the school in 1975 of soil and wood, and it had been nearly destroyed by corrosion over the years.

"The deformed window could not be closed even in cold of winter, and the hut is leaking on rainy days," the headmaster said. The situation got worse after last year's earthquake, which ripped a wide hole into the roof and wall.

"How could I make promises to parents for 105 young lives in such a shabby school?"

Officials at China Daily will help coordinate the rebuilding of the school.

The county is one of the poorest in China. Around 65 percent of students in the school are Dongxiang ethnic minority, and others are thnic Hui and Han.