Project description

In January 2018, an eight years old boy became an overnight star and his photo warmed up internet in China. In this photo, the boy’s hair was covered with ice after he arrived at school on a freezing day, since he lived in a remote mountain village and used to walk more than an hour to his school every day.

The “frost boy” news exposed the weakness of the basic education in China’s remote rural area. We collected and analyzed data from the Educational Statistics Yearbook of China, found that more than 916,000 primary schools disappeared in China from 1976 to 2016, and the number of primary schools in the country has dropped to less than 200,000.

There are various factors that caused to the drop, such as the “One child policy” and the rapid process of urbanization. But the main reason is the policy named “The movement of school closure and merger” since 1990. To integrate education resources, the government started the schools combining policy and posed serious consequence.

Many rural students had to walk for hours to attend school since their original schools were forced to shut down. School buses were rare to see. And for those who have school bus, the traffic accident rates were high.

For students who studied in boarding schools, their living condition was generally terrible. They were also likely to face health issues due to malnutrition. Meanwhile, the gap in education between urban areas and rural areas was even wider.

What makes this project innovative?

By collecting and analysing data from the Educational Statistics Yearbook of China, we explained how 916,000 primary schools disappeared in China, and why the "The movement of school closure and merger" was a failure.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

This story has been reprinted by over 140+ media and we-media, and received more than 35,000 comments on Netease News app. We also received many personal stories from past rural students and teachers who were victims from "The movement of school closure and merger".

Source and methodology

Educational Statistics Yearbook of China、China Rural Statistical Yearbook

Technologies Used

Excel is used for data storage and cleaning, and Adobe Illustrator is used for data visualization.

Project members

Liangxian Chen, Xiaojing Guo, Yusong Wu



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