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October 29, 2015

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Urbanization killing off country schools

THE number of schools in Yunyang County, southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, has fallen to 138 from 482 over the past 10 years.

In that time, about 42,000 pupils have packed up their books and left.

Two of the seven schools in Jianquan Township are now attended by just one child each.

The situation is common in China’s countryside, where urbanization has driven families to enrol their children in bigger schools far from home.

A prime example is the village school in Sixin, in a remote, mountainous area of Jianquan, where fourth-grader Wu Tao is the only pupil, and Xiang Guozheng the only teacher.

When Xiang moved to the school eight years ago, it had more than 100 pupils, he said.

“But I still follow a timetable,” the 58-year-old said.

“We exercise with skipping, basketball and running, and I bought a CD player so Wu can listen to music,” he said.

Wu’s parents are some of the few locals who haven’t migrated away from Jianquan. They still have a farm in the village.

Time, however, might be running out, as education policies call for fifth-graders and above to move to urban schools.

In the meantime, Wu will stay at the village school, where Xiang said he will continue to teach as long as he is needed.


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