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Left behind children given free watch phones

By Wang Keju | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-28 15:28

The government will issue about 100,000 "left behind" primary school children in Bijie, Southwest China's Guizhou province with watch phones so their location can be tracked.

The 24 million yuan ($3.5 million) watch phone initiative is jointly funded by the city and county governments in Bijie.

The device provides easy access to mutual contacts. Children can save the contact information in an app called Guardian Star which allows for more frequent and convenient communication with their parents. Their location can also be reported to their teachers and village cadres in case of emergency using the GPS in their watch phone.

More than 4000 watch phones have been distributed to "left behind" children in Qianxi county, Dafang county and Qixingguan district so far.

A training course will be arranged as soon as the children receive the watch phone. It will explain the device's different functions, to ensure children make good use of the watch phone.

Each child will receive a communication fee of 15.9 yuan per month, including 200-minutes worth of calls a month and 500MB data a month.

Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China and Bijie has long been known for its large number of "left-behind" children. Tragedy has befallen some "left-behind" children in the villages surrounding Bijie.

On Nov 16, 2012, five children from Bijie died from carbon monoxide poisoning from burning charcoal for warmth in a roadside dumpster. On June 9, 2015, four siblings, aged between five and 13, committed suicide by consuming pesticide at their home.

The initiative has also assigned a local official and a teacher to each "left-behind" child to keep a close eye on them.

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