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Couple Dedicate Lives to Development of Education in County

China Daily, August 27, 2013 Adjust font size:

Attending the county's largest primary school in the 1980s, Pasang remembers, there was only a wooden threshold, not even a front gate. Desks and chairs were few; most of the students sat on stones, he says.

Pasang was occasionally given some money by his parents, but without any shops around the school, money seemed like waste paper for him.

Except for a textbook, local teachers had no tools for their task. The students had to rely on memorizing to learn language.

"Our teachers didn't graduate from primary school themselves," says Pasang. "Most of the classes were boring."

With opportunities to study outside later, however, Pasang discovered things could be different. Now 33 and a teachers' college graduate, he has returned to his hometown as one of 32 primary-school teachers at the Medog Primary School, which he describes as realizing a dream.

The school was established in 1972. Before 1985, it had only classes under grade three due to a shortage of teachers. Older students had to continue schooling in faraway Bayi or Pai towns. Many children simply dropped out.

Pasang was sent outside Medog for schooling when he was 8. The school was four days' walk away; he boarded at school and returned home once a year.

Later, he went to study at a middle school in Xianyang, Shaanxi Province. He was fascinated by a teacher who had rich knowledge and presented very lively classes - and later became his friend.

"He was an idol for me," recalls Pasang. "I was thinking then that if only Medog can have a teacher as good as him!"

Since then, he has dedicated himself to the development of education in Medog. Pasang has given up several chances to go to better places or schools in the past years, with no regrets.

His wife, who teaches at the same school, once urged him to take a better-paying post elsewhere. "But I explained to her that I enjoy my life here, and I want to teach children in my hometown," Pasang says.

The couple has lived in the school's staff dormitory for 10 years. While the school's hardware keeps improving, the simple dormitory of black sheet metal, shared by several teachers' families, has remained largely unchanged.

The school has gradually expanded: Two double-storied classroom buildings were built in recent years, housing a complete primary school - from kindergarten to grade six - with 318 students in eight classes. About 130 students board at the school, many subsidized by programs for farming and herding families.

Now the county has 10 schools, including a middle school, eight primary schools and a kindergarten. There are 197 teachers and 2,057 students at school, according to the county government's annual report. The county's investment in education reached 3.66 million yuan (US$598,000) last year, accounting for 26.7 percent of its revenue.

Pasang admits that his school still lags behind those in many developed regions in many aspects.

For example, classes for natural sciences are still in a beginning stage. A lack of professional teachers and family education for children are great limitations, too.

In the past, teaching aids were in short supply and often handmade by teachers. Nowadays teachers have been learning to use multimedia tools to assist teaching.

The newly available Internet, he says, is very convenient.

"I can search for answers for students' questions as soon as the class is over," Pasang says.

Every teacher has access to computers in the school, and lesson plans are made on computers, rather than written by hand like before.

"Requirements for us teachers are higher, and we must overcome all the difficulties to keep up with the times," says Pasang.

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