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.