The value of education is priceless; however, the opportunities for education around the world vary. For some education is a privilege, while for others it is a right. Education in China is highly valued and competitive.
For those living in the Atule’er village, the journey between home and school is dangerous. An estimated 72 families live in the Atule’er village, which sits at an altitude of 4,600 feet. The village is known as a cliff village and its school is located at the foot of the mountain.
To receive their education, the children must spend two hours climbing an 800-meter cliff. Rain and snow can add to the hazards of the trip, which makes it even more dangerous. The journey is so treacherous that they stay for two weeks before returning home to visit their families.
The children range from age six to 15 and through their journey they carry heavy backpacks and are supervised by three parents. The trip to school has killed roughly eight people, according to A Pi Ji Ti, the Secretary of Communist Party of Zhi’ermo Township.
The everyday plight of receiving an education in China for the children of the Atlue’er village is all too common in the country. Although not every student must climb 800 meters to attend school, there are other obstacles.
Many children in China, such as those from the Atlue’er village, attend a boarding school. Conditions in boarding schools can be subpar. Many students do not get enough to eat, which in return affects their health and ability to learn. The boarding schools often have poor infrastructure and harsh living conditions.
Children living in rural areas, children of migrants and poor students also suffer when it comes to receiving an education in China. Children from rural areas are less likely to do well than children from urban areas; fewer than 10 percent go to senior high school, compared to 70 percent of urban children. This is in part because rural families often can’t afford to pay for their children to attend senior high school.
Village elementary schools, townships and larger rural schools have been closing down, requiring students to commute to continue their education. Many of the children do not have transportation or can’t handle the dangers they’d encounter along the way, which causes dropout rates to soar. There was a dramatic increase in the dropout rate from 2000 to 2011; the dropout rate in 2000 was 620,000 and increased to 883,000 in 2011.
For students who are still attending school, overcrowding is another problem. The quota is set for fewer than 1,200 students in Butuo Country’s Ethnic Primary School, yet the student body count is roughly 1,800. Due to overcrowding, there have been numerous crushing deaths. In 2014, six children died and 25 were injured on a school staircase in South West China because of overcrowding.
Although education in China is highly prized, it has become a privilege for many. Children living in rural areas have felt an incredible impact on their education; their journey to school can be treacherous and often prohibits them from attending. For other students, the conditions at school can be unfortunate.
– Danyel Harrigan