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A teacher for life

By Li Yang (China Daily)

14:22, May 08, 2013

Pan Shanji fills the students' bowls with rice during lunch. Apart from teaching, Pan also cooks lunch for the students every day. (China Daily/Deng Keyi)

Pan Shanji was the first high school graduate from the remote Dayandong village, and has spent the past 34 years as a committed educator, passing on his knowledge to children who have few other opportunities for schooling. Li Yang reports from Liucheng county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Pan Shanji has taught about 200 students over his 34-year teaching career, and although not one of them made it to college, he is very proud of all of them.

"My students are the first batch of people from three local villages who have dared to leave the mountains to look for jobs," Pan, 53, says.

Pan, a member of the Mulam ethnic group, is the only teacher for 12 students aged from 6 to 9 years old at the education point in the mountainous Dayandong village in Guzhai Mulam ethnic group town in Liucheng county, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. He teaches Chinese, math, sports, painting and music.

Education point refers to the grassroots education unit in villages.

The three villages, with about 70 families and 300 residents, are the most remote in Guzhai town. In the 1940s, their ancestors fled to the mountains to avoid the approaching Japanese invasion and settled there. The average annual income per family is less than 1,000 yuan ($159). They cultivate small patches of farmland in valleys and live a self-sufficient life.

Pan is the first high school graduate in Dayandong village, which makes him feel responsible for helping the illiterate villagers.

"I have four younger sisters who gave up their only chance of schooling for me. My father lost his chance to join the army because of illiteracy in the 1950s. He was so worried when he worked as a groom for a local production team in the 1960s because he could not even count. In the early 1970s, when he worked as temporary worker at local railway construction site, he often cried at night, silently, because he could not write home for three years and he was too shy to ask for help. So I tried my best at school."

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