Across China: China continues to improve living conditions for rural teachers
YINCHUAN, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- When Yang Jiansheng lies on the double bed in his home which has heating, a television and a flushing toilet, he vividly recalls sleepless nights five years ago when he began teaching in one of China's poorest areas.
"I slept on a decayed wooden board, with mosquitoes flying around and raindrops falling on my face. It was too hard for a new graduate," said 32-year-old Yang.
After graduating from Ningxia Normal University in 2014, Yang became a chemistry teacher at Pingfeng Middle School in Xiji County, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Xiji County belongs to Xihaigu, a largely mountainous region formerly declared "uninhabitable" for humans due to land reclamation, drought, and a fragile ecological environment. It is one of 52 Chinese counties yet to lose its poverty-stricken status.
In the past, rural faculty accommodations made of wood and brick were not equipped with heating, running water, or private bathrooms. Many teachers like Yang had to gain skills such as chopping firewood, repairing roofs, lighting fires in wood-burning stoves, and cleaning wooden closestools.
"There was not a single night that I slept well, and I had to brace myself to face students the next day," Yang said.
Local villagers often asked their children to take chopped wood to their teachers during chilly winters. Yang was moved by such heartwarming acts, but ultimately chose to relocate to Yuanhe Middle School, which had better living conditions and was in the same county.
According to official statistics, China had over 2.9 million teachers working in rural areas by the end of 2018. They play a key role in bridging the gap between rural and urban education. To attract more teachers to poor rural areas and encourage them to stay, China continues to improve rural teachers' living conditions.
Over the past decade, the Chinese government has spent more than 20 billion yuan (about 2.94 billion U.S. dollars) to build over 400,000 apartments for rural teachers.
Yang and his wife moved into a three-story faculty building at his new school in 2018. They were overjoyed with an apartment covering more than 30 square meters with bright ceramic tiles, heating, access to a wireless network, and a private bathroom.
"It is quite comfortable to live and work here, just like home, and it is all free," said Yang.
New faculty accommodations were also built at the school where Yang used to work. "The living conditions and salaries of rural teachers have been improved a lot over the past few years. We have a stronger sense of happiness," he added.
Near Yuanhe Middle School, a new faculty building is under construction. "We are speeding up the project, trying to provide single accommodations for each of the remaining 200 rural teachers in our county within five years," said He Yulong, head of the project office of the local education and sports bureau. Enditem