Students border on the exceptional

Updated: 2013-02-26 09:49

By Hu Yongqi, Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei (China Daily)

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Students border on the exceptional

Students play at Pianma Border Primary School, one of many border schools in Yunnan province that has students from neighboring Myanmar. [Photos by Wang Jing / China Daily]

Children from various nationalities and ethnic backgrounds find learning is a class act, report Hu Yongqi, Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei in Yunnan.

Twirling a pencil in the fingers of her right hand, Wu Liumei, 13, stopped for a second as she contemplated the equations the math teacher had written on the blackboard, and then continued to take notes.

About 50 students sat in the classroom for sixth graders at Pianma Border School, including many from the Lisu and Nu ethnic groups. Although her clothes were almost identical to those of her peers, Wu's darker skin made her stand out; she is from Myanmar.

Born and raised in a small town 10 kilometers from the Chinese border, Wu has spent seven years studying Chinese and other subjects at Pianma, a small border town in Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province. Sheer hard work enabled Wu to beat her classmates and take first place in the final exams of the semester, much to her teachers' delight.

Wu is the sixth of seven children in her family. Her father works for the local government, a position that not only allows him to earn more than his neighbors but also provides frequent interaction with Chinese businessmen. That interaction made him realize the increasing importance of Mandarin and so he sent one of his elder daughters to study in Pianma. She has now graduated and studies at a college in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan.

Wu said her sister's success encouraged her father to ensure that all of his children learn Chinese. "When my sister graduates from college, she will definitely get a decent, well paid job in my hometown because China is our most-important trading partner," said Wu, who added that obtaining an education in China has become an increasingly popular trend in Myanmar.

Twenty-five children from Myanmar study at Pianma Border School along with their Chinese peers. Yunnan neighbors Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar along its 4,061 km stretch of border. In 2008, the central and the provincial governments invested 200 million yuan ($32 million) to erect new buildings and upgrade the facilities at 28 schools, mostly those for primary students, in 24 border counties.

At Pianma School, one of the beneficiaries of the project, two classroom blocks were rebuilt and dozens of computers were provided for the students. A soccer field will be built on a piece of land that the township government bought for 2.9 million yuan.

"Compared with six years ago, the students now enjoy better equipment and share larger dormitories," said principal Ma Dacai.

Education experts said the project has helped to improve facilities at the schools, raising awareness of education in the far-flung border areas.


Yunnan investing in children

Room for improvement for border schools

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