Remote prefecture educates itself on ways to prosperity

Vocational school in Gansu province broadens horizons for ethnic minority students

By Shen Wendi,Ma Jingna and Xiao Xiangyi | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 07:37
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A bird's-eye view of the rare Danxia land formation inside the Linxia UNESCO Global Geopark in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture, Gansu province. SHI YOUDONG/XINHUA

In tune with environment

Primary and secondary education in the region is also being developed in accordance with local geographic conditions.

In March, Linxia geopark was listed in the Global Geoparks Network by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The Linxia UNESCO Global Geopark, with its dramatic landforms, diverse fossils and rich cultural relics, can play a big role in the education of primary and middle school students, said Ma Jun, director of the geopark.

A total of 12 primary and secondary schools are already located within the geopark. "We want to make the most of our geological resources to boost our children's interest in science and their understanding of their hometown as well as the Earth," Ma said.

Xiguan Primary School, located in Linxia's Hezheng county, is one of the 12 geopark schools.

Since 2018, the school has held classes twice a week in museums and at outside locations, so students can conduct hands-on research. Some of the children have volunteered as guides to share their rich knowledge with visitors about ancient creatures or geography.

"The wealth of fossil specimens in our park makes me so proud of our hometown, and I want to share it with my schoolmates and everyone," said Wang Zihan, a fifth-grade student who volunteers at Hezheng Paleozoological Museum and conducts her own research.

Zhang Wufan, another fifth-grader who volunteers at the museum, said her favorite extinct animal is the shovel-toothed elephant. "The big long teeth make it look so hilarious and whenever I pass by the model, it trumpets in a funny way," she said.

Zhang is eager to explain to visitors three-toed horses, and has modeled clay into the shape of the animal at a handicraft school club.

Ma Jiao, who graduated from the school, is now a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

Chang Hui, head of Xiguan Primary School, said the geopark gives his students the opportunity to learn about culture and nature for free. The students are passionate about researching subjects related to the park, he added.

"The children are particularly interested in immersive experiences such as reconstructing scenarios, treasure hunts and exploring fossils. Stepping out of classrooms gets their spirits and brains very excited, and I believe it's more effective than sitting in a room reading books all day."

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