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School with only one student
Published on: 2017-05-27
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070Xu Zefeng, 53, and Xu Jiaqi, 10, Youcheng primary school's only teacher and student, have class in Youcheng, Henan Province, on May 16.

A recent report about China's "loneliest school," which has just one teacher and one pupil, has pointed a spotlight on the dire situation of rural education in the face of massive urban migration.

Xu Zefeng, the only teacher of Youcheng primary school in Central China's Henan Province, who has been working there since 1982, told the Beijing Youth Daily that since he started working in the school its number of students has been steadily declining.

"The village is so poor that most young people chose to leave when they reach marriageable age. Now there are just a few senior citizens left," Xu said.

Xu noted that the only reason that Xu Jiaqi, his only student, has stayed is his particularly extreme poverty. "His family is just too poor to send him outside. Although Jiaqi can enjoy the 'two exemptions and one subsidy' policy, it costs 100 yuan to make the round trip from the school in the county seat to home, which is too expensive for his family," said Xu.

The "two exemptions and one subsidy" policy - exemption from miscellaneous fees and textbook fees in addition to subsidized living expenses for boarding students - was adopted by China in 2001 and is implemented in poverty-stricken areas.

Though he only has one student, Xu still works hard. Apart from core subjects such as Chinese and mathematics, Xu also teaches Jiaqi music, painting, and physics.

Jiaqi has to take examinations in other primary schools so he can be compared with his peers.

"Jiaqi feels lonely sometimes as he has no companions. So I take him for a walk to listen to birds chirping. Sometimes I lecture him about studying harder but he is just too young to understand," Xu said.

According to the 2012 NNU report, nearly 90 percent of the surveyed college graduates would be willing to teach in rural schools if the monthly salary could reach 4,000 to 5,000 yuan.

The government is trying to solve the situation by increasing its investment in rural teachers.

By the end of 2015, the budget offered by the central government provided for over one million rural teachers with additional living allowances totaling 7.37 billion yuan.

The income of rural teachers has continuously increased and the job has become more appealing over the years to graduates.

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