Far Out Friday: The school in the clouds

by Sarah Bachman13 Mar 2015

It’s not every day that a school student tumbles down a cliff face whilst searching for the restroom - but not every school is located halfway up a mountain.

China’s “school in the clouds” might provide some healthy perspective on what an “under-resourced school” really looks like.

Nestled in the unforgiving terrain of China’s Sichuan Province, Gulu Village Primary is located nearly half way up a mountain.

Given the arduous route to get to the school, you’d hope the view would be worth the effort.

The daily trek to the school takes the students (and its much older teacher) up to five strenuous hours of climbing. If that wasn’t bad enough, the path leading up to the school consists of many sharp bends, one of which is just 40cm wide at its narrowest point.

The students’ school uniforms were donated by volunteers, some of whom helped its principal, Shen Qijun, when he first convened the villagers to help transform the school into what it is today.

The school had five classrooms, one restroom and a basketball court (more specifically, an abandoned blackboard on two wooden posts).

However, it didn’t always enjoy this level of relative luxury.

Qijun has run the school since 1982 when he first arrived at Gulu Village Primary as an aspiring 18 year old teacher. The classroom was made of mud, the roof leaked and the wind howled in through the walls.

When the students needed to go to the bathroom, they would sometimes fall and hurt themselves on the harsh rocky terrain. One student, who fell down a rock face, sustained some pretty serious scratches and bruises.

Incidentally, the name of the village derives from the sound that rocks make as they roll down the steep slope.

In late 2011, the Government told the school’s teacher to have the students relocated to a nearby town as the parents said they could no longer afford the monthly expenses.  

The children’s parents were initially reluctant to relocate their children but later agreed after they received an agreement by the Government that promised them subsidies that would be extended to future students-to-be from the Gulu village.

The school’s last day was 18 November, 2011.
 

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