Across China: Guizhou turns idle buildings into sweet homes for pupils

(Xinhua) 10:15, January 26, 2023

GUIYANG, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Disused nursing homes, teaching buildings, kindergartens, student dormitories... Idle buildings have been renovated into affordable apartments for families with pupils from far-flung mountainous areas in southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Pupils under grade three are not advised to live on campus by themselves. For those whose homes are far from the school, their families, in order to take care of and accompany them, used to rent simple homes near schools, which are relatively expensive and with poor conditions.

"There were over 180 such families, and their rented homes were usually crowded and had fire and security risks," said Nie Yuangang, chief of the Party committee of Wangyou Township under Huishui County in Guizhou.

"Then we realized that there were some idle buildings in town that could be used with a little renovation," Nie said.

Beginning in November 2021, Wangyou Township invested 100,000 yuan (about 14,760 U.S. dollars) in transforming a former nursing home into 21 apartments. In the summer of 2022, another 200,000 yuan was invested to transform a faculty dormitory, two student dormitories, and a kindergarten into 94 new apartments.

In October 2022, Xiantang Township also renovated a teaching building of a former primary school for 19 families. Wang Qiang, a Xiantang official, said the renovation work has been basically completed, pending an acceptance check.

Last September, Tan Tingmei and her three children moved into their new home. A sliding glass door separates the balcony from the living area. Appliances such as a washing machine and an induction cooker are on the balcony, and three beds and a small dining table are placed inside. Although a little bit cramped, the apartment is organized and clean.

"It's cleaner than the place we used to live, and there are plenty of places for kids to play," she said.  

The local government has arranged volunteer teachers to help the students with homework after school, and carry out extracurricular activities such as painting and handicrafts.

"The apartments cost 400 to 500 yuan per unit a semester, saving at least 600 yuan for each family a year," said Zhang Guangting, a Party official of Wangyou Township.

"It used to cost 1,000 yuan per semester to rent an apartment, but now it only costs 500 yuan. I can buy more new clothes for the children with the saved money," Bai said.

Still, about 70 to 80 families have not yet been met with their demands for an apartment due to a lack of funds, according to Nie.

In Wangyou, although the rented apartments have generated certain income, they need to be used to cover the salary of security guards and cleaners, purchase personal accident insurance for the parents, maintenance of the apartment, and other expenses.

"We are striving to raise more funds from both government and society for follow-up projects," Nie said.

(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Hongyu)


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