Being A Child In Rural China
Discussions about China in the Western media ordinarily focus on its tremendous economic development that has enabled the nation to become one of the major trading forces in the world. But, the large majority of people in China live in rural areas and are far removed from the excitement and luxuries found in Shanghai or Beijing. Chen Weihua, a reporter for China Daily, recently took his daughter with him on a trip to rural China. After several days, she said to her father: “Dad, I feel so fortunate that I was not born here and don’t have to live here.” Her comment came after seeing village boys and girls as young as seven spending their entire day working in the fields.
The elementary school in the village was built due to donations from overseas Chinese, not the government. There are three teachers and 25 first and second graders. Students in higher grade levels must travel to another village to obtain further education. The majority of students in the village drop out of education either after elementary or junior middle school due to economic factors. Parents often must select only one of their children to go on in education because they lack resources to support several children attending school.
Mr. Weihua estimated the amount of money spent on the education of fifty rural children is less than the amount spent for a single student at a top middle school in Shanghai. “A lack of education and other resources simply means that rural children are left behind since the day they were born.” He argues that China in the long run would be better off if less was spent on certain aspects of economic development and more spent to ensure the eduction of rural children.
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