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Boosting arts education in rural schools

(China Daily)

10:05, August 13, 2012

Students from Guangxi University of Science and Technology play with pupils in Tantou township, Liuzhou city, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in July. English, dancing, painting and calligraphy classes were held for the pupils during summer vacation. ( China Daily/Tan Kaixing)

Mud was the only material that Qiu Hui, a pupil from a poor village in East China's Fujian province, could sculpt with before he received a "love package" from a charity in Beijing.

"I love the pieces of modeling clay in the parcel I received. They smell good and have beautiful colors. In the past, I had to dig mud from farmland, and everything I kneaded with mud looked drab," said Qiu, a sixth-grade student from Changting, an impoverished county in the mountainous area of western Fujian.

More than 90 percent of the pupils in poor rural areas said they love classes in music, arts and physical education, according to the latest survey conducted by the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation. It polled more than 2,000 pupils and 47 principals from rural primary schools in nine provinces.

However, the survey revealed that primary schools in poverty-hit rural areas made little investment in providing quality arts education for their students.

Some 88 percent of schools polled invested less than 500 yuan ($78.50) in buying or renewing arts supplies and about 56 percent of the surveyed schools spent less than 500 yuan purchasing instruments for music classes every semester.

It also found that only two in every 10 students had musical instruments and 13 percent had drawing books.

"Our greatest concern is that rural students are falling behind their urban counterparts in aesthetic sentiment and creativity. The effect is invisible but profound and lasting," Chen Hongtao, deputy executive director of the foundation, said in an interview with China Daily.

Weak arts education at the elementary level is commonplace in vast rural regions and will worsen the inequality between rural and urban areas, said Chen.

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