Rural teachers make the grade

By Hu Yongqi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-10-07 07:25:45

Rural teachers make the grade

Shown here are seven young teachers who returned to their home county to teach at Longjiacun Primary School and improve education in the underdeveloped village. [Photo by Hu Yongqi/China Daily]

Young educators forgo good job prospects to bring learning to remote villages. Hu Yongqi reports in Huize, Yunnan.

When his mother passed away three years ago, Long Yongzheng, now 8, was too young to understand the tough road that lay ahead for him, his brother and his father, a farmer in Longjia village, located in one of the most-remote parts in Huize county, Yunnan province. Long broke his arm last year while harvesting corn, and his father Long Shunjin, 38, could not afford to pay 300 yuan ($51) for an X-ray. Instead of going to a hospital, he took the boy to an old villager considered a "doctor" of traditional Chinese medicine. The man bound the boy's arm in two splints and applied some herbs to it.

After Liu Yuliang, the boy's teacher, discovered why he had been absent for class for so long, he angrily reprimanded the father. Liu donated 300 yuan, and Long was taken to the hospital for treatment, but his bones would never fully recover.

"Sometimes accidents happen to the kids, but their parents are unable to take good care of them due to either a lack of money or awareness. In this small village, teachers have to do more than their jobs," Liu said.

The duties of teachers at Longjiacun Primary School do not end when the bell rings because the student body here is special - 80 percent of the school's 139 students are children left behind by migrant workers or come from single-parent families.

Liu, 32, is among a group of seven young teachers at the school, including Cheng Jin, Chen Shihua, Jiang Zhengyang and Zhou Fenghui, who were all born in 1986. Headmaster Liu Shunyue is 30, and Xing Jinzheng, the youngest, is 25.

The seven teachers had the chance to work for higher pay in cities after getting their bachelor's degrees in college. Instead, they returned to their home county on a mission to improve local education in the poverty-stricken village. Locally, they are called the "seven sons and daughters of Huize".

Related: West China schools get 'special' treatment

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