SHANGHAI, Feb. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, more than 400,000 elementary and secondary schools in China have faced the threat of closure in the past two decades, due to their geographically remote locations and limited educational resources. Twenty years after China's national education reform, however, rural schools are undergoing a radical change for the better. Local school enrollment rates have improved dramatically through the adoption of online learning models. So much so, in fact, that even students from nearby urban centers are traveling to rural areas for a better education. What is it that is making such a huge impact?
Recently, the China Global Television Network (CGTN) made a series of special reports on how China's small-scaled rural schools have survived such a dilemma.
The reports show that many schools are choosing to embrace online education, and are actively collaborating with the Hu+ (Hujia) Project, a K-12 educational charity program launched by Hujiang EdTech, China's leading online education company, in order to address these problems.
Currently, there are about 140,000 rural schools in China enrolling fewer than 200 students each. Most are facing similar dilemmas, e.g., falling enrollment numbers, severe teacher shortages, and a lack of resources to properly deliver their curriculums.
Here are some success stories:
Xindian Elementary School, located in Yibin prefecture, Sichuan Province, has fewer than twenty people in the entire school, including sixteen students and three teachers. Unfortunately, the students there seemed destined to struggle with educational inequality.
The situation changed, however, once teachers in big cities, thousands of miles away, started teaching these students online through the Hu+ project, which provides online education tools and other resources, free of charge, to elementary and middle schools in rural and underdeveloped areas in China, and helps them develop innovative online curriculums.
The Project not only offers the students diversified and multifunctional online classes, it also trains teachers to use novel methods to deliver their lessons online.
Zou Changjiang, a teacher from Xindian Elementary School, has been involved with the Hu+ Project since October 2015. Like most traditional rural teachers, Zou found it difficult to teach using modern technologies. Now, after several attempts, he is able to teach using online curriculums and even introduce the Hu+ Project to other new teachers.
"Online courses can provide us with more learning materials for children who lack educational resources", Zou said, "Even teachers like ourselves, are able to learn from teachers in big cities and grow together."
Zou witnessed a significant change: After using the newly introduced online model, his students became more confident and talkative than ever before. Without a doubt, the internet expanded these students' horizons and showed them a world with fewer barriers.
Another elementary school named Beijiao, in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, 125 miles from China's eastern metropolis, Shanghai, recently explored an innovative way to provide more courses for its students at affordable costs.
The school has been using crowd funding to purchase online courses, aiming to provide better educational resources for its students. As school funds are limited, both the school and parents share the costs of these courses.
The idea of crowd funding originates from China's popular way of doing business on e-commerce platforms. Products and services are often available at significantly reduced rates once a minimum number of customers choose to buy them.
According to CGTN reports, the school has used crowd funding to offer nearly sixty courses since last summer, covering a range of topics from reading to writing, and English storytelling to singing. All of these courses are supported by CCtalk, a real-time interactive educational platform from Hujiang EdTech. Although some parents doubted its feasibility at first, most have welcomed the idea, as children have responded positively to the courses.
Back in Sichuan Province, Liangshuijing Middle School has undergone major curriculum reform over the past two decades and has improved its overall situation. It is not easy to find classrooms in rural China as busy and bustling as the ones here.
Usually a student will be named class representative and take a leadership role in the classroom, at times substituting for the teacher. The teacher's role, in fact, has gone from teacher to coach.
Wu Ge, the vice principal of Liangshuijing Middle School wants students to develop their own characters, rather than just becoming 'exam machines'. "Being a better person is more important than anything else", Wu said.
With the success of Liangshuijing's curriculum reform, the school began to try internet courses in September 2015. Although a late-starter compared with other schools, its progress in adopting the new approach has been incredible.
By collaborating with the Hu+ Project, students now have access to high-quality online art courses, and school activities are livestreamed via CCtalk. Teachers and students can also share their progress through Hujiang EdTech's online learning community.
As a result of those specific efforts, half of the students passed the local senior entrance examination and were admitted to prestigious senior high schools in 2016. This remote school has even attracted some students from nearby cities to enroll.
As the headmaster of Liangshuijing Middle School, Long Yunjun, said, "schools in the future will tend to be more boundless and without walls". To other educators like Long, in the rest of China, education reform is a never-ending endeavor.
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