As we drove between the towering mountains, enjoying the magnificent scenery, the local teachers told us that behind the scenery was freezing weather, drought, and infertile soil. The mountain road here is rough, flowers do not blossom in spring, and the grass on the mountain turns brown after extremely long winters. During this year in particular there has been no rain since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday – the harvest is therefore a concern. As a result, the ground is full of more drought-impacted potatoes. What the children here do during their leisure time is herding sheep and cattle…
What does a school look like in this deeply impoverished area on the plateau?
How did a 4000-student central county school develop?
Can our philanthropic acts reach the children?
What about their learning?
In the Corn Rain season of April 2023, Co-Principal Ms Sunny Huang several members SUIS Qingpu’s school management team to Huize County, Qujing City in Yunnan Province. During the trip, the team visited two local schools and communicated with local education department leaders.
Huize County is located in the northeast of Yunnan Province, a region filled with deep mountainous areas, rocky areas, cold areas, dry and hot valley areas and areas often stricken by landslides. Among the 1.068 million people living in the region, there are approximately 341,700 citizens existing well-below the national poverty line.
When we walked onto the campus, the children were undergoing their morning exercises. They were exercising with big smiles on their faces, the glow of the sun rising over the mountains reflecting in their eyes.
With the help of the government and society, these children, who live and study at altitudes over 3,000 meters, are able to put on neat school uniforms, have lunch, and sit in classrooms with complete teaching facilities. Last year, our school made a charitable donation of hot water dispensers to the school, finally allowing these students to have access to hot water.
Although Dahai Primary School is located in a poor area with poor conditions for schooling, a team consisting of principals, managers and teachers dedicate themselves to creating a good cultural and learning atmosphere for the children. During a talk with teachers, Principal Zhang Mingxue proudly communicated that in a 2022 test for Grade 6 students, Dahai Primary School won 1st Place among all township-level schools in the county. The school culture emphasizes that “Everyone is different but everyone is capable”, a phrase very similar to Xiehe Education’s “Harmony in Diversity”!
Zhong Ping Primary School
Compared with Dahai Primary School, Zhongping Primary School is a modern primary school with better interior conditions, gathering 4,059 students from four counties and eight towns. Principal Jiang Xian’e introduced the school and his passion for the students. Zhong Ping Primary School is a primary school directly run by the county’s Education and Sports Bureau after the implementation of the relocation of impoverished citizens by the CPC Huize County Committee and the county people’s government.
It is known that the larger the scale, the more difficult the educational management of the school is, but when our team walked into Zhong Ping Primary School’s theatre, the hundreds of attending children in the audience were absolutely quiet! And during the whole process of the awards ceremony, we were overwhelmingly impressed by the students’ excellent behaviour.
With the help of the government, with wlove from SUIS Qingpu and with love from the community, these children can enjoy better educational resources and give full play to the important role of education in avoiding the intergenerational transmission of poverty. In 2022, SUIS Qingpu helped Zhong Ping Primary School implement mixed online and offline teaching, creating a modern ‘cloud’ classroom, an important measure for improving their educational efficiency.
Due to the pandemic, this visit was the first official visit of SUIS Qingpu’s school management team since the donation and assistance provided in 2020. We awarded certificates and scholarships to students to encourage them to continue their studies with diligence. This was our way of delivering the love of SUIS Qingpu students, parents and teachers to the children here.
In order to enhance professional communication, we prepared SUIS Qingpu courses for the students. Principal Sunny Huang gave a special lecture on “One foot in the present, Running towards the future”, urging the students to work hard, overcome difficulties and persist in lifelong learning. Co-Principals Sunny Huang and Dr Adam Neufield brought a bilingual co-teaching lesson to one class. They delivered a “Let’s visit Canada” lesson, introducing students to Co-Principal Adam’s home country. Our two co-principals encouraged students to master skills through learning and become more confident to face new challenges.
Picture 1: My Deskmate
Picture 2: The Vegetable Fields
Each class in Zhong Ping Primary School has its own vegetable garden, and the students have their own responsibilities. They sell the harvested vegetables to the school cafeteria to get points, with which they can then exchange for all kinds of favourite items. According to their teachers, each class can earn over 1000 yuan from their hard work, and the money earned is used as a class ‘budget’. Such hard work is worth our admiration and reflects the far-reaching, significant aspirations of the teachers.
During the visit to Dahai Primary School, we saw two large maps in front of the teaching building of the school: one was of China, and the other, of the world. Even behind the lofty mountains, our educators do not forget their primary mission: To always encourage students to take root in China and embrace the world!
This visit made us truly feel the love and dedication of the teachers, students and parents, which also spread joy and inspiration to the students. We look forward to sowing the seeds of love in the hearts of local children through continuous, high-quality help and encouragement. In the future, they will surely improve their lives through rigorous study, become outstanding and shining in all walks of life!
In the exchange, we also discussed further plans to support the development and training of teachers and students in local schools in the future. We have made a plan of mutual visits between teachers and students from both schools. In the near future, we will also invite teachers and student representatives to Shanghai to study and experience the educational atmosphere and practices here!
Since our campus was founded in 2019, SUIS Qingpu has held a series of charity activities on an annual basis. We adhere to Xielihui’s mission: “to come together, assist, and encourage”, focusing on the education, growth and development of youth. With the integration of social and volunteer resources, we can engage in meaningful activities to help underprivileged youth. The proceeds obtained each year are used to fund the education of children in poor areas and to carry out various public charity activities such as the “Golden Sunshine Alliance” youth charity programme.
In the past three years, we have connected with Dahai Primary School and Zhong Ping Primary School in Huize County, Qujing City, Yunnan Province, to build libraries, repair playgrounds, supply sports shoes, and deliver sports goods for the children there. In 2022, we created a ‘cloud classroom’ for the schools, and children can now drink hot water from donated dispensers on campus.