Over the past decade, schools in rural China have been shutting down at an alarming rate of four per hour. 21st Century Education Research Institute (21CEDU) held a forum in Beijing and presented figures on rural education. From 2000 to 2010, an average of 63 rural primary schools, 30 teaching stations, and three junior high schools have shut down per day.
Schools shutting down are not unexpected occurrences. In fact, this is part of a government policy from 2000 to remove a large number of village schools. In return, the government would focus more on merging education resources in response to parents’ demands for better quality education. However, this plan backfired as the number of rural schools reduced significantly.
31.53 million rural pupils and 16.44 million junior students have no local school to go to. So, students must either attend schools miles away or completely drop out of school. Children, who migrate to other cities everyday to find education, often find difficulty in fitting in. Not to mention that their new schools can also shut down any day. Thus, dropout rates have been steadily rising in rural China.
“The fundamental teachings of the Chinese culture, the very concept of right and wrong, the core values of a society, once held together by village schools, are now lost,” said Wang Lei, an independent documentary film director. “These schools are not just about children. They are the center of a community and, in turn, help build a stable society.”
After the figures from 21CEDU were revealed, the policy was halted. It will restart once a new policy is put in place with better regulation and re-planned on the distribution of rural schools.
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