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A break from school that no one wished for

By Zha Minjie (Shanghai Daily)

09:20, April 25, 2013

Teacher Gao Tianjin worries about how many students will return to his kindergarten in the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Sichuan Province last Saturday.

And whether the only private kindergarten in Gucheng Village in Lushan County will be able to continue.

"It's all we had, and now nothing's left," said Gao, 38, sitting with his wife, Wu An'tao, in the backyard of the kindergarten, a two-story brick building now with cracked walls and empty classrooms.

On a blackboard, numbers for a math class written before the quake can be seen, while children's paintings line the walls.

Water, food and other daily essentials are the main worries for families but the children are anxious for things to get back to normal.

"I want to go back to school," said Zhou Zhijie, a 15-year-old girl in Wangjia Village.

As residents pass by carrying newly arrived rice, cooking oil and other items, she is trying to teach her seven-year-old brother to read at the side of the road that goes through the village.

Zhou and her brother live in a tricycle that has been turned into a makeshift shelter. Their grandparents failed to secure a tent in a struggle with other villagers who had surrounded delivery trucks when they arrived with relief supplies.

Zeng Xueli, 14, takes shelter in a tent made by her family on a piece of open ground among damaged and collapsed houses in Shengli Village, one of hardest hit communities.

"I have never heard from my school friends," Zeng said.

It's expected that the school, in Lushan, will inform the students next month. One school in Longmen has resumed, in a tent, although nerves are still on edge.

"Some students are still afraid and become easily panicked after the disaster," said Le Pinghai, schoolmaster of what was Chenyang School and who is now in charge of a temporary school in two tents set up by soldiers.

In them, 71 students are being taught but 13 of their fellow pupils are still absent.

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