Closure of schools is a harsh lesson

Updated: 2012-06-07 07:52

By He Na (China Daily)

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A heavy burden

A number of serious accidents involving school-buses last year prompted local governments to crack down and private minibuses, hired by parents to transport the children, were banned.

Transporting the kids back and forth has become a heavy burden for each family, because the school in Lu'anzhuang doesn't allow students to have lunch in the classroom or remain on campus during break time. For Wang Tingmin, almost the entire day is spent riding his small motorbike, carrying his young grandsons between school and home.

"What else we can do after traveling eight times a day (four trips for each child), more than five hours on the road. Our time is being wasted and no one goes out to work, so where is the money going to come from?" asked the 62-year-old.

The situation has become so bad that a popular joke has developed among the villagers: Whenever anyone is asked the whereabouts of a certain person, they reply, "He's on the way".

"The extra expenditure on travel, food and board has become a new burden on farmers, especially those in poverty-stricken mountain areas, since the number of rural schools declined," said Xiong Bingqi.

Few rural parents have time to collect their children from school, and most of the kids travel by themselves. It's common to see children no taller than the bikes they ride giving lifts to kids smaller than themselves.

Cao Shuo is 8 and lives in Caozhuangtou village, 5 km from his school. Every day he gets out of bed at 6 am and rides his bike, with his little sister Cao Xiaoxuan on the back, to school and then home four times a day. "Without school buses, canteens and boarding facilities, the least the government could do is build a road for us. It's 2012 and our kids still walk the same dirt road that I did in the 1970s," said Wang Shuchang, head of Wangzhuangtou village.

"Our village is located in the center of five others. If our village school reopened, not only our children, but also those from other villages would have a much shorter journey. Our village has about 100 children younger than 10 years old, and if we added in those from nearby villages, the number of students would be guaranteed," he said.

Closure of schools is a harsh lesson 

Children from Wangzhuangtou village in suburban Cangzhou city have to spend long hours on their way to school after the one in their village was closed down. Traveling along poorly maintained roads is no easy journey for these children.