The love and sacrifice of China's rural school teachers
Updated 11:24, 27-May-2019
By Li Zhao
["china"]
02:51
‍"What do you do if you see a snake?” I asked.
Growing up by the coast, I honestly have no clue what I would do but run and scream.
But 14-year-old Ran Haiyan is used to situations like this.
"I will just pick up a little rock and hit it," she said. "Usually, it will leave."
Ran Haiyan, 14, walks back home. /CGTN Photo

Ran Haiyan, 14, walks back home. /CGTN Photo

Ran lives on campus, deep in the mountains in central China's Longfeng Town of Hubei Province, Monday through Friday. On weekends, she takes a bus and then walks for 90 minutes along desire mountain roads to reach her remote home.
Her next dream is to attend a local model high school, which has the highest standard of teaching in the area.
"And after that, I wish to attend a university."
Ran Haiyan walks back home. /CGTN Photo

Ran Haiyan walks back home. /CGTN Photo

Ran knows her dreams have no hope of coming true without the sacrifices of her teachers.
"They would have had more opportunities if they left the mountains," she said.

Rural school teachers: All about love and sacrifice

Teng Yun is one of the 40-some teachers at Ran's Longma School. Once a teacher in the city, she came to the village last year to support rural education.
"Teaching in the city is, of course, a lot more comfortable," Teng said. "I can live at my home. And the overall conditions are much better than here."
Still, she wants to stay.
"Most school students in the city have their parents alongside them, but this isn't really the case for village school kids. Most of them are left behind children," the teacher said. 
Teng Yun teaches a class at Longma School in the remote rural area of central China's Hubei Province. /CGTN Photo

Teng Yun teaches a class at Longma School in the remote rural area of central China's Hubei Province. /CGTN Photo

Teng spoke of one child who has lived with her grandmother since her parents got divorced.
The kid used to carry an empty rice bag for her books, Teng recalled, who then secretly gave her a backpack.
"I can't leave them. If I left, they'd be alone."

Rural education: A long way to go

Longma School teachers visit students' homes frequently, hoping to get the kids' parents to pay more attention to their children's education.
"We would expect parents to work with us, getting the students' homework done, revising what we've taught at school and stuff like that," Teng said. 
Many of the village kids' parents didn't have the chance to finish high school and have to work relentlessly to support the family.
Longma School staff pose for a photo along with Ran Haiyan's family in front of their home. /CGTN Photo

Longma School staff pose for a photo along with Ran Haiyan's family in front of their home. /CGTN Photo

The teacher pointed out the problem – parents often don't have much experience of formal education and struggle to find time to focus on their children's studies. 
"This requires us to really go deep (into their family life)," principal of the school Wu Yanfeng said, although that means traveling hundreds of kilometers on mountain roads.
The 36-year-old hopes more volunteers will join the team, for the good of all the kids here.
"The overall conditions in the villages are getting a lot better, but we lack teachers," he said.
CGTN's Li Zhao with Longma School kids. /CGTN Photo

CGTN's Li Zhao with Longma School kids. /CGTN Photo

"We really need more people to devote themselves to rural education. We sincerely hope those college graduates who have a passion for education and a caring heart for children can come to join us here."

Ran: I will be back

Ran's answer to whether she would ever return to the mountain village if she gets a degree from a prestigious university is firm and solid, "YES."
"I have a dream. There aren't that many books in my home. When I get richer, I want to build a library in our village so that books are always available for those who want to read."
(Video filmed by Fu Gaoliang, edited by Li Zhao)
Editor's note: Check out more on what I did during the 15 days I spent in the village: