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School mergers leave kids with daily trek: report


18:49, May 03, 2013

BEIJING, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Attending school means a long daily walk for many children in rural China after their local schools were removed or merged in recent years, the country's top auditing agency has found.

In a report on the distribution of middle and elementary schools in rural areas, the National Audit Office (NAO) said on Friday that more than 100,000 rural children have to walk over 10 km, mainly in mountainous areas, between their homes and school every day.

The NAO carried out random inspections of 25,127 schools in 1,185 counties where 12.58 million non-resident students were studying.

The indiscriminate amalgamation of schools in some areas has greatly reduced the total number of primary schools and forced a number of children to walk a longer distance.

About 4 percent of the 12.58 million non-resident students have to travel over six km per day on foot or spend more on transport to get to school, leading to more dropouts over the years, according to the NAO.

As a result of the greater distances and rising burdens, the number of dropouts more than doubled to 8,352 in 2011 from 3,963 in 2006 in 1,155 schools of 52 major counties under examination.

On average, middle schools have to serve areas up to 8.34 km from their gates, compared with 4.23 km for elementary schools. But in China's western regions, the average serving radius of middle schools climbs to 14.35 km and 6.09 km for elementary schools.

The NAO found only 1,702 schools, or 6.77 percent of schools under inspection, were equipped with school buses, while 412,600 students independently rent cars to get to school without proper oversight.

Boarding school dorms can only meet 84 percent of demand for 5.54 million students who apply for such accommodation.

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