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Remote middle school in Gansu's Luqu county strives to provide quality education by Jin Ling, September 10, 2021
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Located at the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau bordering Qinghai province to the northwest and Sichuan to the southeast, Luqu county, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu province, has a very fragile ecological environment. The harsh climatic conditions and poor resource endowment in the area have contributed to the low social development, weak infrastructure, and relatively poor living environment that exist in its borders.

Sparsely populated and burdened by factors like its history and economy in addition to its natural environment, Luqu was unable to provide quality education for allof its students until recently. Residents completed relatively few years of formal schooling on average; many schools lacked appropriate teaching facilities and a sufficient number of qualified teachers; and pupils often dropped out due to a lack of an understanding of the importance of education on the part of their families, poor economic conditions, and other negative factors that plagued the area. Unexpected external shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic have posed challenges as well.

A view of Luqu Tibetan Middle School (Xinhua/Chen Bin)

Gannan has increased investment in education, improved conditions at its schools, created a comprehensive dropout prevention system that utilizes big data and other modern management tools, ensured that pupils who are in need receive subsidies, strengthened the development of teacher teams, and implemented other measures intended to help it overcome these challenges and ensure that every child in its borders has the opportunity to enjoy fair and quality education that have proven to be successful.

Established in 1982, Luqu Tibetan Middle School is one of the schools that has benefited from the new policies that the autonomous prefecture has put into effect. It currently offers 53 junior and senior middle school classes and has an enrollment of over 2,500 pupils, most of whom live on campus. The majority of the school’s students are also Tibetan; its activities are, therefore, mainly conducted in the Tibetan language. Featuring three teaching buildings, a laboratory building, a library, three dormitories, and other facilities, the educational institution’s campus constitutes a beautiful, quiet, convenient living and learning environment.

Luqu Tibetan Middle School provides free breakfasts and lunches; reduces or exempts the cost of tuition, books, insurance, accommodation, and heating; and distributes living subsidies to students who are in need, which has greatly eased the economic burdens that the farmers, herders, and impoverished urban dwellers who live in the area experience and helps ensure that no one drops out of school due to financial difficulties.

The school’s 203 teaching staff work hard to promote students’ best interests. All of its 196 teachers are well-qualified – 15 hold national senior teachers certificates and 74 possess first-class credentials – and many of them made a point of returning to their hometowns after they graduated from university. Luqu Tibetan Middle School also regularly invites experts to impart professional guidance at its campus and sends members of its faculty to other schools to study and learn from their experiences and the techniques that they utilize.

Gannan’s dropout warning system helps make teachers aware of pupils who are at risk of abandoning their studies and young people who have already discontinued them. Teaching staff visit the families of students and former students in these situations, try to gain an understanding of why those who dropped out did so and persuade them to come back to school or try to convince students to continue with their educations if they are at risk of dropping out and make a plan covering how they will do so, and offer additional support to members of both groups in order to help them stay on track and finish their compulsory education.

Luqu Tibetan Middle School’s teachers have done their best to ensure that their pupils’ educations are not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Books are delivered to students who are under quarantine; classes were conducted online during lockdowns; and special emphasis has been put on former pupils who had dropped out or current pupils who are in danger of doing so, pupils whose parents do not live with them, and those who are impoverished or live in remote areas. A thorough survey designed to analyze what techniques helped students learn best when they were taking classes online was also conducted when in-person classes resumed, and plans have been made to ensure that pupils not fall behind as a result of the pandemic.

Bande Cao, captain of one of Luqu Tibetan Middle School’s girls’ football teams, practices the sport with her teammates on a playing field located 3,200 m above sea level under the guidance of their coach.(Xinhua/Chen Bin)

Luqu Tibetan Middle School features more than 20 student clubs covering Tibetan opera, Chinese and Tibetan calligraphy, Thangka (Tibetan Buddhist scroll paintings), folk music, a circular Tibetan dance known as Guozhuang, football, martial arts, and other extracurricular activities and holds a wide range of activities, such as summer camps, Guozhuang tournaments, and model-making competitions, in order to create a colorful atmosphere and make life more interesting and enjoyable on campus.

The school is also a football training base for Gannan youth, though only boys’ teams existed until principal Gongquhu Tsetenestablished girls’ teams with several teachers in 2015. Currently some of the strongest girls’ football teams in the area, Luqu Tibetan Middle School’s female teams have won several championships in the last few years.

“I enjoy playing football and feel ineffable happiness every time I run on the field,” striker and teamcaptainBande Cao smiled recently.

“I study and train hard, am trying to get admitted to my dream university, and tell everyone that girls who play football are great,” the 11th grade student added.

Luqu Tibetan Middle School’s more-than-2,700 staff and students evacuate its buildings as part of an emergency earthquake safety drill conducted by the Luqu Seismological Bureau. (Luqu government website)

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