60-year-old man teaches at “Cliff School” for 20 years

This school, surrounded on three sides by steep slopes, is known as “Cliff School”.

As the school’ s only teacher, Yuan Zichao has been working here for 20 years.

Xichan primary school is located at Xijingshan Village in northwest China’ s Shanxi Province, 1,400 meters above sea level.

Over the years, many families left for bigger towns and cities.

And the number of school children kept dwindling.

We had more than 30 students during the peak years, but now only three are still studying here.

The three include a six-year-old preschooler, and two second graders.

I like playing on the mountain school.

Over 20 years, Yuan only taught about 70 students.

Due to the harsh conditions, some teachers came and went, but Yuan never left.

He even moved his home to the school and devoted nearly all his time to the children.

I’ m pleased to see that all of the school kids left the village for bigger cities. Only when I come up here can they go out of the mountains.

But as Yuan gets older, climbing the mountains becomes an increasing challenge.

He reaches 60 this month, the full retirement age.

SOUNDBITE: SHI CHENGBING, Parent of Xichan school student
“It meant lots of hardships for Yuan. He stayed here for 20 years. From the bottom of my heart I wouldn’ t like him to go, but he is retiring. It’ s not easy for an elderly man like him.”

In the next semester, local officials say, they might hire another teacher to replace Yuan, or transfer the students to another school in a nearby village, or at the foot of the mountain.

They say they will talk with the students’ parents and ensure that their kids will have a safe place to study.

Leave a Comment