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To herd yaks or attend school?'

Updated: 2014-04-18 09:23 By Erik Nilsson (chinadaily.com.cn)

Increased government and nonrprofit investment is transforming the lives of nomadic yak herders in Yushu prefecture's remote grasslands. Erik Nilsson chronicles the improvements over three years.

Qumalai county's children are the nomadic community's first generation to attend school.

Until a few years ago, illiterate parents in the secluded swathe of Qinghai province's Yushu autonomous Tibetan prefecture believed children should herd yaks to feed the family rather than study.

That outlook has inverted.

Most herders now believe children should study so they don't have to herd.

The average altitude of 4,300 meters, isolation and insufficient infrastructure make life tough.

But since the government and nonprofits have increased investment in Qumahe's scattered settlements in recent year — especially in schools — herders now place their hopes for a better future on their children's education.


To herd yaks or attend school?'

A man rides a motorcycle along a dirt road through the mountains of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Yushu prefecture. More nomads who rode horses and yaks several years ago are using motorcycles and cars to get around.[Photo by Erik Nilsson/chinadaily.com.cn]  

Related Story: Nomads embrace changes brought by education

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