Education awareness among parents raised

Updated: 2013-03-28 07:14

(China Daily)

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Chindu county has about 8,000 students studying at primary and middle schools. Compared with the situation years ago, parents now are starting to change their minds about sending their children to school, said Kunga Lodru, principal of Lab Ethnic School in Chindu county.

Lab Ethnic School has 220 students boarding there, more than 60 percent of enrollment, because of the long distance between the school and their homes. The distance made parents reluctant to send their children to the school. Rich families can pay for their children to ride in small vans running between villages and the township of Lab.

In late March, some yaks were spotted on the gray hills and mountains in the dry season. These were the only source of income for thousands of households in the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. In addition to the cattle, Tibetan people dig in May for Chinese caterpillar fungus, which sells for 140,000 yuan ($22,500) per kg.

Ten years ago, 7- or 8-year-old children were considered capable of raising yaks, said Kunga. At around 6 am, kids drove the yaks to the hills and then got them back after 12 hours.

"Now many parents go to cities to work and earn much more than before. They know how important education can be in changing their lives and insist their children go to school," the principal said.

Tibetan people account for 20 percent of the 5.6 million people in Qinghai province. In areas inhabited by Tibetans, students have to learn two languages: Tibetan and Mandarin.

"At first, Mandarin was pretty hard for me and other students because the grammar is totally the reverse of the Tibetan language," said Sonam Rinli, 14, at the China-Congo Friendship Primary School.

After 18 years of hard work, Qinghai province has included all school-aged students into the nine-year compulsory education system, according to the local education department.

So far, 99.5 percent of the province's 510,000 kids who should enter primary schools are being instructed in schools and nearly 100 percent of 220,000 teenagers of middle school age receive an education. In 2011, the last 43 schools in six cities and prefectures passed the Ministry of Education's inspection of compulsory education.

-Hu Yongqi

(China Daily 03/28/2013 page4)