Students border on the exceptional
Updated: 2013-02-26 09:49
By Hu Yongqi, Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei (China Daily)
Young monks take part in an IT class at a middle school in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, where Chinese students mix with students from across the border. [Dai ZHENHUA / China Daily]
Border security is a big issue for frontier inspection soldiers, but students are not subject to physical checks and are able to pass through the border entry point simply by sliding their electronic ID cards across a screen.
Liu Shiquan, political advisor to the Pianma Frontier Inspection Station, said the border is officially open from 8 am to 10 pm. However, he ordered his soldiers to start work 60 minutes ahead of schedule to allow the Myanmese children to pass through and get to school on time at 8 am.
Li Xiaolong, a captain at the station, said education is becoming increasingly important to parents. "Several years ago, they would always make excuses, saying that their kids had to help on the farm, otherwise their family wouldn't survive," he said. "But now, parents really want to see their kids get a good education."
Meanwhile, the frontier inspection soldiers have used children as part of their efforts to prevent gambling and drug dealing, said Li.
"Many people in Pianma made their fortunes by trading logs and jade with Myanmar. They would cross the border to gamble in the casinos in Myanmar. Some of them lost all their money. So, how could they raise children and support their families?" he asked. "Frontier soldiers had been looking for a way to stop their behavior. But it was really hard to persuade them to stay away from gambling. Then we turned to their kids, telling them how bad gambling and drugs are. When the students go home, they transmit the anti-gambling message to their parents who are more likely to listen to their children."
Li said his soldiers offered anti-gambling and anti-drugs classes at Pianma Border Primary School every month to improve the stability of the area. In addition, the soldiers donated money to families who couldn't afford to educate their children.
"We want more children to receive a better education and make a difference for their families. In the past 20 years, we have made donations to about 300 students," said Liu.
Lu Xin, China's vice-minister of education, highly evaluated the soldiers' effort to jointly build border schools with the local government on a visit to Yunjing Border Primary School in April 2012. She said the frontier soldiers strengthen the border defenses and their presence has created an environment conducive to the promotion of education.
For their part, the Myanmese students said they have learned a lot at the border schools and are grateful to their teachers.
"One of my dreams is to become Myanmar's ambassador to China. If I were ambassador, I would definitely promote exchanges with China and help more kids to study there," said Wu Liumei.
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Cui Jia and Yang Wanli contributed to this story.