EYESHENZHEN  /  News  /  Latest news  /  China  /  

Children in rural areas return to school

Writer:   | Editor: Lily A  | From:  | Updated: 2018-03-22

SHORTLY after the spring semester began, a circuit court opened in a remote village in Northwest China’s Gansu Province. Two villagers were sued by the local government for failing to send their children to school.

Ma Talibu was a defendant. His 15-year-old son, Ma Musa, didn’t show up on the first school day last month. Instead, the young boy was waiting tables in a restaurant.

Dacitan Village in Jishishan County has long been plagued by poverty. The average education period for the villagers there was 7.1 years. Many families have dropout children — for them it is not a big deal.

“Many illiterate parents think that farming or working part-time can at least bring some income, and children going to school are a waste of time,” said Cui Yongzhong from the local education bureau.

Ma’s two adult daughters are married and not living with their parents. Ma’s wife is seriously ill in bed, which leaves him as the only bread winner in the family.

The slender incomes from farming and part-time jobs were just a little over 6,000 yuan (US$950) a year.

The son did not perform well at school, so it was only natural for the father to ask his son to drop out of school and help out with family expenses.

Since last December, the junior high school student, instead of attending classes, had become a worker in the neighboring Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Officials from the local government soon called at their home and tried to persuade the parents to send their boy back to school. But the parents, who never went to school, thought several years of education was enough for their boy. Making money had to be the priority.

After several failed attempts, the local government decided to resort to the law.

According to China’s law on compulsory education, parents or guardians for children of school age are obliged to guarantee the compulsory education — at least nine years in primary and middle schools in most parts of China — for their children.

“You must not let the misery of an uneducated life repeat on your son,” said Ma Chengfu, presiding judge of the circuit court.

At the court, Ma Talibu said he regretted his action. He called his son the same day, asking him to return home as soon as possible.

The son arrived home the next day and went to school immediately.

The local government withdrew the suit as both defendants agreed to bring their children back to school. Villagers attended the public trial.

“The point of the case is to introduce the law and educate more villagers, and let them see the serious consequence of not obeying the law,” Ma Chengfu said.

According to the county court, eight such cases had been handled as of early March, with parents in six cases sending their children back to school.