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Chinese school rebuilt with African aid

By Hu Yongqi in Yushu, Qinghai province | China Daily | Updated: 2013-03-27 23:53

In Chindu county, Qinghai province, the late-March sunlight was stronger than in many other parts of China. The dazzling sunbeams reflected from the dormitory's wooden floor onto the white walls, making the room at the China-Congo Friendship Primary School even brighter.

During the midday break, Sonam Rinli climbed onto his bunk bed and glanced at the photos of his favorite TV stars pinned to the wall. He dipped into the pages of a favorite non-school book about science before taking a rest. The 14-year-old student lives in the new dormitory at the school, which was built with a donation of 16 million yuan ($2.57 million) from the Republic of Congo.

Chinese school rebuilt with African aid

A Tibetan girl dances on a playground at the China-Congo Friendship Primary School, which was built with the help of an investment of 16 million yuan ($2.57 million) from the Republic of Congo. Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily

For Sonam Rinli, everything is new and exhilarating. "The wooden floor shone amazingly from the first moment we moved into the new dorm. The canteen and library are also remarkably good," he said.

In a separate room, Sonam Rinli's brothers were also taking a break. The three boys transferred to the school from a primary school in the Chindu county seat two years ago, a move that relieved their mother of a heavy financial burden. The brothers now have peace of mind and can devote themselves to their studies along with their 300 peers without having to worry about tuition fees or daily expenses, which are now covered by the government. Two-thirds of the school's students are orphans, as befits an institution originally founded as a place of education for children without parents. The rest, Sonam Rinli and his brothers included, come from single-parent or economically disadvantaged families, according to the Chindu Bureau of Education.

The school, covering 42,625 square meters, is seven times larger than its predecessor, which was badly damaged in an earthquake in 2010. Five new buildings, including a library and a computer room, have been erected, along with a soccer field and a basketball court. When the bell rang to signal the end of class, the students gleefully rushed to the playground to play basketball or perform traditional Tibetan dances.

The scene was very different before July last year, when construction of the new buildings was completed. The children were housed in tents and often spent their leisure time wandering aimlessly around the site because of the lack of amenities. When decorative work finally ends in August, the school will receive another 150 students.

Experts said China has a reputation for helping African countries with infrastructure projects and donations, but this school, on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has reversed the trend and is seen as a symbol of the close ties between China and Congo.

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