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Coming to Yellow Sheep River(5)

The School that only Has One Basketball for Physical Education

Xi Datan is in Tianzhu Zang Nationality Autonomy County that is the first Zang Nationality Autonomy County of our country. Xi Datan, 102 miles away from township, is a remote village. The annual average income per person is only several hundreds. It is the typical impoverished village. 24% of Xi Datan Middle School students are Zang Nationality. The classes are taught in mandarin together with Zang dialect. I found the website of the school is updated frequently. On July 14, I saw the news that the 9th grade students were being taught vocational skills which was excluded in the educational guideline. Furthermore, the website has helped the farmers to sell their awetos in good price. I was curious about the school, so I decided to have a look at it.

On August 2, I arrived at Xi Datan Middle School and Yang Baolin, the headmaster, gave me reception. The single-story building of the school is beautiful and solid, built with the loan form World Bank. When talking with Yang Baolin, I found him very proud of the schools teaching quality. This year, half of the students entered Tianzhu No.1 High School, one of the best local high schools which I regarded as good as those in big cities according to its website. The rest entered nationality schools and vocational secondary schools. I asked Yang why they gave the 9th students vocational training, like technique of farming and stock raising and agricultural mechanic repairing. He said it was useful for the students when they left school. The teachers looked for training material by themselves, some from internet. Although the training only lasted for 2-3 weeks, it was an extraordinary try as it was initiated by a school itself.??

I asked how they helped the farmers to sell awetos? Yang said they saw the price on the internet and wrote it down on a blackboard in the roadside. When the farmers saw it, they came to us and made the good deal.

As I know, Xi Datan Middle School is the only one has funds appropriated by the government. That is 20 RMB each student. However, it can hardly meet the demand. In Xi Datan people have to stove for heat for 8 months because Xi Datan is an extremely cold place. Even in summer, when it rains, people have to use stove to keep warming. Now, the coal price becomes higher and higher, so the budget is not enough for warming. The common diseases are rheumatic and arthritis. In addition, the cost for surfing through broadband is 4 yuan per hour. For a school with more than 400 students, the school can just afford two hours of exploring the internet.

The school had a library, but Yang said there was no librarian so it was not open. The 3,000 books there were mainly donated by civilians of the village and could not meet various interests of the students.

Yang told me the stuff for physical education was just one basketball and volleyball and the only musical instrument for musical class was an accordion that was used when he was a student there. The school even had no budget for watercolor paint for painting class. Yang said he was anxious for an electronic organ as all the Zang Nationality students liked dancing and singing.

I felt very sad when I heard about the above. I dont how many middle schools that only have one basketball for physical education exist in China. The case really dose not equivalent to the fast economic development. A school can have no computers but it is not justifiable to have no basketballs. For many schools in cities, an electronic organ is just a piece of cake, but it is a dream for the headmaster of Xi Datan Middle School. Our government owns a heavy debt for the countryside compulsory education. The problem can be easily solved if a small portion of the 2 trillion RMB is allocated. Otherwise, the government should be guilty for the farmers and the responsible teachers. The government should apologize to them.

I donated 300 RMB. I said to Yang that I didnt bring too much and it might solve the problem of basketball and volleyball first. Yang held my hands tightly and said they would make best use of it. Then he showed me around Erbo, a sacrifice altar, pasture and rooms the herds stayed in summer. I had tea and typical steam bread on the bed of a herd. Yang also told me that every Zang family hung the portrait of Mao Zedong, the founder of Peoples Republic of China. Mao was their god. They said without Mao, they would not have had their land and pasture. Finally, Yang showed me their god mountain----Animaqing Jokul. He asked me to wash hand with water flowing from the mountain. He said the water could bring me good luck.

It was the beginning of new term when I came back school. I heard the students were preparing for performing Zang Nationality dances and songs. How cute they were. They should receive more care and love.

Actually, the school can gain support if they publicize their lack of P.E, musical and painting equipments on website www.17888.com. Perhaps they have been accustomed to the insufficiency or they dont know how to use the website, or even it is out of self esteem. No matter what are the reasons, I hope people reading this article would pay attention to the school. It has beautiful scenery, virgin forest and jokul. It is the only place that has white yaks. The teachers and students are so simple, industrious and innocent. So lets join our hands to improve the poor teaching condition there.

I believe Xi Datan have a better future.

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