According to a report by Yang Feiyue and Zhang Li in Nanning, rural schools in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of South China are being equipped with more facilities, providing students with greater opportunities. This development has made a significant impact on the lives of children like Zhang Jingwen, who live in remote areas and previously had limited access to education and resources.
Jingwen, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Andong Primary School in Chengjiang town, Du’an Yao autonomous county, was able to participate in an online space travel class, where she learned about the theories and anecdotes behind the Shenzhou XIV manned spaceship from a scholar located thousands of kilometers away. For Jingwen and many of her rural counterparts, online education was a new and exciting concept.
Through online education, Jingwen was able to acquire knowledge that was previously unavailable to her. She expressed her joy and appreciation for the opportunity to learn about space travel and other subjects that were previously out of reach. This development has made a significant difference in the lives of rural students who now have access to information and education that were once exclusive to urban areas.
The increased access to education has been made possible by the installation of new facilities in rural schools. This development has created new opportunities for rural students to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, and has opened up new career paths for them. The impact of these changes has been felt by students like Jingwen, who are now able to learn about subjects that they are passionate about, and develop skills that will help them in the future.
The increased access to education and facilities in rural schools in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has been a significant development for the region. It has opened up new opportunities for students like Jingwen, who previously had limited access to education and resources. The installation of new facilities and access to online education has made a significant difference in the lives of rural students, providing them with greater opportunities and helping them to develop skills that will benefit them in the future.
In early November, Zhang Jingwen, a sixth-grader at Andong Primary School in Chengjiang town, Du’an Yao autonomous county in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, had the opportunity to attend an online space travel class. During the session, she learned about the theories and anecdotes behind the Shenzhou XIV manned spaceship from an expert located thousands of kilometers away from her village home. While online education may not be a new concept for urban children, it was a novelty for Jingwen and many of her rural counterparts.
Excited about the opportunity, Jingwen took the chance to ask the expert on the other side of the screen about the odds of her communicating with an alien. While the expert didn’t give her a definitive answer, they piqued her curiosity to dig further into the subject. Jingwen says, “I didn’t dream of having the class on the subject and even getting a teacher to answer my questions.” The newfound knowledge she acquired sparked her fascination with the stars.
However, Jingwen had limited access to information on the subject. There were no learning materials at her school, which has over 1,000 students, and she found little information on TV. The majority of the students at Andong Primary School are from villages, says Huang Zhaohua, the school headmaster.
Huang had been seeking ways to improve the teaching capacity at the school and was delighted to discover that an online classroom program was achieving remarkable results in Gaoling town, located about 30 minutes away from Du’an county.
With this discovery, Huang was able to provide her students with more opportunities to learn about various subjects beyond the limited resources of their school. Thanks to the online space travel class, Jingwen and her fellow students at Andong Primary School now have access to a world of knowledge that was once out of reach. As rural schools in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region become connected to more facilities, students are given greater opportunities to pursue their interests and expand their knowledge.
The online program provides quality education to rural schools that otherwise would have limited access to it. The program owes its success to Chen Yanhui, who played a pivotal role in its initiation. Chen, who completed his doctoral degree in physical electronics from Peking University in 2018, worked on high-tech projects at the Guangxi development and reform commission. In 2019, he was appointed as the first Party secretary of Jiaquan village in Gaoling, Guangxi.
Chen visited Jiaquan Primary School, the only school in the village, and was disheartened by its condition. It was May, the rainy season, and the school, located on a mountain, was shrouded in moisture. The student dorms were on a hillside, and some of the windows were broken, allowing moisture to seep into the rooms. The quilts were damp, and water could be wrung out of some of them. He felt that improving the school’s infrastructure was an urgent matter.
Chen decided to work with the Guangxi Youth Development Foundation, on the recommendation of the social organization bureau of Guangxi’s civil affairs department. More than 1.2 million yuan ($172,400) was allocated to upgrade the school’s infrastructure. The funds were used to construct a library, calligraphy room, and a reading garden. These facilities, which were previously not available to the students, created a more conducive learning environment.
Chen’s next step was to provide quality education to the students. He discovered an online classroom program that had produced remarkable results in Du’an county’s Gaoling town, about a 30-minute drive away. The program enabled rural schools to access quality education from urban schools. Chen introduced the program to Jiaquan Primary School, and it was an instant success.
The students were thrilled to learn from teachers in urban schools and acquire knowledge that was previously inaccessible to them. The online program proved to be a boon, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when physical classrooms were closed. The online program has become an integral part of Jiaquan Primary School’s curriculum, and the students are thriving.
Chen’s efforts have transformed the lives of the students in Jiaquan village. The online program has provided them with access to quality education and has opened doors to opportunities that were previously out of reach. The program has demonstrated that distance and geography need not limit the potential of students in rural areas.
Chen Yanhui’s initiative to upgrade Jiaquan Primary School’s infrastructure and introduce quality education to rural classrooms has inspired a revolution in the Du’an county of China. Although the school’s physical upgrade was significant, Chen noticed that there were inadequate resources for comprehensive development courses. To address this obstacle, he sought to transfer urban education supplies to the rural classroom through the internet.
With Du’an’s “education informatization” project, over 2,200 multimedia machines have been installed in 400 primary and middle schools. Jiaquan village is one of them, which enables students to connect with urban education supplies via the network. Chen’s cloud classroom idea was quickly supported by local government and volunteers.
Peking University faculty and graduates contributed to the design of the curricula. The goal is to have experts from various fields give lectures that cater to the needs of students in the fourth to sixth grades. The focus is on traditional culture and exposing children to art, science, poetry, calligraphy, and music to broaden their horizons. Chen also believes that exposing children to extracurricular knowledge is essential for nourishing their bodies and minds.
Zhao Yanfen, an associate professor from the School of Chinese as a Second Language at Peking University, serves as a teacher and chief consultant in course design. Chen’s cause quickly attracted the attention of professors from Peking University, researchers from the Palace Museum, teachers from the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theater, and college students from Beijing Normal University and Minzu University of China.
Since its launch, the online classes have become a hit with students, and the positive impact on the students’ education and behavior is evident. Chen believes that “we make use of the ‘interest-fostering class’ time and give the children a weekly live-streaming class.” As educational resources are scarce in Du’an’s rural areas, word of Chen’s initiative has quickly spread.
Chen’s efforts have opened doors for children in neighboring villages whose parents work in larger cities, encouraging them to attend Jiaquan Primary School. Chen’s vision is to bridge the gap between urban and rural education and to provide all children with equal opportunities to learn. His cause is essential to the children’s growth, to empower them with the necessary knowledge to create better futures for themselves and their communities.
More than 20 primary schools in Gaoling town, Guangxi, have embraced online classrooms, and Andong Primary School was quick to follow suit after hearing of its success. Huang Zhaohua, a teacher at Andong Primary School, sat in on the online classes and found them to be a valuable complement to what the school offered. She decided to apply them to more than 30 classes in October. Huang believes that the online classroom is customized for primary school students and can help protect and stimulate children’s curiosity. The children can communicate and interact with experts and scholars in various fields without having to leave home, which will encourage them to learn.
Huang also notes that finding appropriate resources that fit the psychological conditions and acceptance level of children in this age group can be difficult. Although there is a vast amount of knowledge available online, it takes a lot of time and effort for schools to screen this information. However, she believes that the online classroom program offers faculty training, such as Mandarin, which can be of great benefit to ethnic teachers.
At Andong Primary School, teachers have been asked to listen carefully and take students to do some extended thinking after the online class to develop their interests. Huang hopes that the course will become more systematic and increase the training of teachers in such areas as teaching etiquette. She adds that the format of livestreaming class training can achieve full coverage at the teachers’ level as compared to existing training mechanisms. More than 20 teachers have joined the program, and classes, including those on calligraphy, painting, and astronomy, have been given on a regular basis.
The online classes have been a hit, with more than 10,000 students from rural Guangxi listening to a class simultaneously at their peak. Wei Deng, headmaster of Gaoling Central Primary School, praises the knowledgeable and lively classes and the online interactive communications, which are of great interest to the students. He notes that the classes allow students to see a wider world outside, and the seeds of exploring knowledge are planted in their hearts.
Li Jianjun, Party secretary of Du’an, hopes that the learning mode can be promoted to benefit more schools in the country’s remote mountainous areas and thus help high-quality education development. Positive influences have already shown themselves in the student response. Jingwen, a student who took the space travel class, says, “It felt magical how a teacher can teach us thousands of kilometers away.” She has taken the initiative to read up on related materials and has also found satisfaction in the rich classroom arrangement for dancing and music.
Jingwen believes that the biggest takeaway from these lectures is that people need to have their own interests so that they can experience more fun outside of the classroom, enjoy learning and life. The success of the online classroom program has shown the potential for technology to bridge the educational divide in remote areas, providing students with access to quality education and new opportunities.