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Yunnan investing in children

By Hu Yongqi  (China Daily)

11:21, February 26, 2013

In 2012, Yunnan province invested 67 billion yuan ($11 billion) to improve its education system. The figure was a 39 percent increase from 2011 and the highest amount invested in the past decade, according to the provincial department of education. The investment accounted for about 6.5 percent of Yunnan's GDP in 2012, higher than the 4 percent required by the Ministry of Education.

Many of the students in the province live in the mountains, but the schools are located in the townships. Traversing the mountains in the snowy and rainy seasons is a hazardous task.

"Four children died on their way home in 2011. They got lost in the heavy snow and weren't found for several days. Now, parents want their kids to sleep at school to avoid the potential danger," said Li Xiaolong, a captain at Pianma Frontier Inspection Station in Nujiang Lisu autonomous prefecture, who has been making donations to the impoverished students at Pianma Border Primary School for five years.

Because their homes are at least 5 km away, 231 of the school's 280 students are boarders. In 2012, 10 percent of Yunnan's educational investment went into improving student nutrition and subsidizing those who live at school. The nutrition improvement plan subsidized all 5.34 million primary- and middle-school students in rural Yunnan, with 71 percent funded by the central government and 29 percent gaining financial support from the provincial government. In addition, another 535 million yuan was allocated as aid for 489,400 boarding students from underprivileged families. In 2009, the provincial government decided to spend 500 million yuan to repair school buildings. Almost half of them had been renovated by last year.

Li Yu, a 12-year-old student at Dulongjiang Primary School in Nujiang, said his family is unable to afford his education, let alone his food. "I like the free milk and lunch the best. Sitting in the new classroom encourages me to study harder."

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