A teacher’S Dedicatton

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-07 08:39
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 A teacher’S Dedicatton

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Yuan Zichao and his eight students from Xichan elementary school take a break outdoors.

Yuan tells his students the story of the national flag, one of the first lessons he always gives his class.

Fruits and vegetables are gifts of gratitude from villagers thanking Yuan for his dedication to the school.

Yuan is responsible for all lessons in the syllabus, ranging from Chinese, mathematics to moral education.

A 30-square-meter rocky outcrop is a natural playground for the children of Xichan elementary.

Wang Yanfang, 7, is one of the eight children at the school.


Tucked high amid mountainous cliffs, a village school keeps learning alive, thanks to Yuan Zichao's solo effort.

More than 1,600 meters above sea level, there is an unusual school with only one teacher and eight pupils. This is the Xichan elementary school in Xijingshan village in the Taihang Mountains, Heshun county of Shanxi province, a school surrounded on three sides by steep stretches of mountains.

It's a two-hour drive on rugged, twisting roads to reach it from the county town.

At the moment, there are eight students at three different grades - all taught by Yuan Zichao, the only teacher in this school for the last 14 years.

Yuan formerly taught in another village school, closer to his home, where conditions were better. However, he took up the post here without hesitation after learning that several teachers had left because of the harsh conditions on the mountain.

In the school, Yuan is responsible for lessons in Chinese, mathematics, moral education and even outdoor activities. He pays regular home visits, makes up lessons for students, and even accompanies some pre-school students to and from their homes.

The mountains have isolated Xijinshan village - which has 80 households and a population of around 250 scattered in 13 settlements - from the outside world. However, thanks to Yuan's efforts, not a single school-aged child in the village has dropped out.

Yuan goes back home only once every month or two months. It takes him more than two hours along a mountain road of more than 10 km to reach his home in the Bangjiao village down the slopes.

"I have taught more than 70 students, and among them, one is with an IT company in Shanghai, and two others are working in Taiyuan (capital city of Shanxi)," Yuan says proudly.

While his students have grown and flown one after another, Yuan is still holding on to his post at this humble mountain-top school 14 years later.

"My biggest dream is to see all these children get the chance to go down the mountains and create a brighter future for themselves," Yuan says.