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“支教情侣在大山里拍婚纱照”上热搜,网友感动:让他火!

CD君 CHINADAILY 2021-11-24

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Hou Changliang volunteered to teach at Xiangyang Primary School in a remote village in Yunnan province in August 2017.


▲ Village school teacher Hou Changliang uses cards with Chinese characters on them in his class at Xiangyang Primary School in Yunnan province. Photo provided to China Daily


It is the third village school that Hou, 34, has taught at since he graduated from Hunan University of Arts and Science in Changde, Hunan province, in 2011.


"The longer I stayed in the countryside, the deeper I understood the challenge in rural education. Rural schools need teachers, especially good ones," Hou says, adding that a good teacher can make a real difference in a student's life and can even change a village.


▲ Hou (second from right) visits a pupil's home in 2012, when he was teaching at Youqi Village Primary School in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Photo provided to China Daily


Hou has witnessed the improvement in village schools over the past decade-from makeshift classrooms to renovated school buildings and from shabby desks to advanced equipment, like computers. But Hou's school still suffers a teacher shortage.


"No matter how advanced a school's facilities are, it is teachers who instruct students. No matter how many fancy books are donated, it is teachers who guide students to read. If there are no teachers, computers are just a decoration and some students even use pages from books as toilet paper," Hou says with a sigh.


▲ Yang Feifan, a volunteer teacher, opens a supermarket at Changdong Primary School in Guangxi's Bama county, where pupils can buy or rent donated items by undertaking special tasks. Photo provided to China Daily


On video-sharing platform Douyin, Hou posts images of his everyday life with students, which have attracted nearly 300,000 followers and garnered more than 7.3 million likes.


"What I can do is limited. Through media coverage and social media, I hope that my story can inspire more people to understand and support rural education, especially rural teacher groups," Hou says.

Hou is among the hundreds of thousands of university graduates who apply for various volunteer programs every year to contribute to rural education in the impoverished central and western parts of China. But he is in the minority who have stayed in the countryside for more than 10 years.


▲ Hou reads to his pupils after class in 2018. Photo provided to China Daily


After finishing the two-year teaching program at Youqi Village Primary School in the mountainous Dahua Yao autonomous county in Guangxi in 2013, Hou found a job in Shenzhen.


When his bus was leaving, he realized that scores of children were running behind it pleading with him not to go.


"I just cannot leave these children," Hou says. He returned to the school three months later.


Now, he is in his 11th year as a volunteer teacher in the impoverished area.


When it comes to helping develop rural education, the first thing most people think of is to donate items, such as desks, books, clothing and even money.


However, Hou found this approach and mindset has its drawbacks and may even foster a mentality of expectation.


He quotes an old saying to illustrate his point: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."


▲ Hou and his wife, fellow teacher Lei Yudan, celebrate their wedding at Xiangyang Primary School in Yunnan in November. Photo provided to China Daily


According to market-research firm Zhiyan Consulting, as of 2019, there were about 89,000 rural primary schools serving nearly 25.6 million students across the country, about 24 percent of the national total.


Although the dropout rate in rural elementary schools has decreased dramatically, Hou suggests it is time to change people's mindset about village education.


"Once a student asked me what an amusement park is after seeing it described in a textbook, which made me think about our education materials," Hou says, adding that if rural content is not covered in textbooks, these young people might not be able to relate to the content or feel proud of their villages.



The good news for village teachers like Hou and Yang is that authorities have taken various measures to improve rural education.


In September, the Ministry of Education and five other departments released a guideline to improve the number and quality of rural teachers over the next three to five years.


This will be achieved through more favorable policies such as improving salaries and offering better career prospects.


Although rural education has improved over time, rural students are far less likely to enter college than their urban counterparts. This year, among the 4,402 freshmen entering Peking University, 442 are from the countryside, according to the school's statistics.


"There is still a long way to go to enhance the quality of rural education," Hou concludes.

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编辑:陈月华 周婵

记者:王茜

实习生:李蕤


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