Government and Policy

Schools begin again in quake-hit region

By Zhang Jin and Zuo Likun (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-24 06:47
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Schools begin again in quake-hit region

YUSHU, Qinghai - So fair is the River's South, where pretty scenes did I well know.

The sunrise basks the blooms in fiery glow and the spring waters of blue as sapphire flow.

How can my nostalgia cease for the River's South?

Dekyi Palmo has never been to Jiangsu province, the place lauded in this poem by famous Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi. To be precise, the 8-year-old girl has never left Yushu.

But that did not deter her from reciting the lines loudly and passionately at a camp school in Gyegu, Qinghai, on Wednesday morning.

Her school, the No 2 Primary School of Gyegu, was pancaked by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on April 14, and so was her home.

Dekyi and 20 other children are now sheltered in the station of the Yushu branch of the Armed Police Force, which opened a camp school on Tuesday.

After reciting the poem twice, Dekyi asked her teacher, Luo Zifang, how to get to "the River's South".

"Shall we go by bus or by air?" she asked. But before Luo could answer the question, Dekyi threw her second question: "Will that place be hit by an earthquake too?"

After the teacher replied, "No," Dekyi commented: "Then it must be a really good place."

The camp school was a makeshift, by any standard. All students shared six textbooks, which were recovered from the rubble. The school has no desks or chairs, so all children either stand or sit on the ground.

The big board that sports the slogan, "Be united to fight the disaster" - written in both Chinese and Tibetan - was the only thing that makes the tent look like a school.

But still, children are having fun attending the class. In Dekyi 's words, "That is the only time all kids in the shelter can gather together to play."

Dekyi stole the attention of her classmates when she brought a stray dog, which she adopted after the earthquake, to the class.

Kids put aside the textbooks for a moment to discuss naming the dog.

They soon reached a consensus - Xiao Huihui, a character of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, the Chinese version of the American cartoon Tom and Jerry. The character Xiao Huihui, which literally means "little grey", is a wolfling.

Luo acknowledged that she is allowing her students a little latitude in terms of discipline.

"The class is more like a kindergarten than a primary school," she said.

Luo, a Guangxi native, said she wants to make the class atmosphere lighter to help students walk out of the shadow of the earthquake.

"They need to have a place to have fun. They are just kids and have a long way to go," she said.

While Dekyi attends the class more or less for fun, Tsungmed Wangmo, 17, another quake survivor, takes her class studies seriously.

Tsungmed will take the college entrance examination in three months, and "that will be the most important test in my life", she said.

All buildings of her school, Yushu Prefecture Middle School, collapsed in the quake.

Sixteen makeshift classrooms, each covering 60 sq m, were ready to use Friday.

Students are eager to resume class, teacher Li Chengnian, 24, told China Daily on Thursday, a day before the school reopens.

Li said he received four to five phone calls in the past days from his students, who asked when the class will resume.

According to the department of education in Qinghai, all schools of Yushu will resume classes by the end of the month.

China Daily

(China Daily 04/24/2010 page4)