Qinghai middle school flourishing under paired assistance from Shanghai

By Jia Fengfeng, People’s Daily

Golog Tibetan autonomous prefecture in northwest China’s Qinghai province faces enormous challenges in education development due to its high altitude, inhospitable climate, harsh environment and severe natural conditions.

“We have invested considerably in infrastructure, but the harsh climate conditions have severely hindered its effectiveness,” said Jormai Tentseng, director of the education bureau of Golog.

Sports fields built in schools, exposed to scorching sunlight and extreme coldness, always become uneven and filled with potholes in just a few years, the director added.

To better meet local people’s needs for quality education resources, expand teaching staff and improve educational standards in pastoral areas, the Golog Xining Ethnic Middle School was established in Xining, capital of Qinghai province, with the paired assistance provided by Shanghai.

On July 21, 2017, the construction of the school commenced, and in just two years, the school was put into use. The school has a standard sports field, multimedia classrooms, spacious and clean cafeteria and dormitories, as well as a library and technology museum.

Over 1,000 students from high-altitude pastoral areas, with an average elevation of over 4,200 meters, have come to the school to study and pursue their dreams.

The excellent facilities of the school have greatly improved the students’ academic performance, and the teachers’ caring warmed the hearts of the students.

Yesi Tsering, 15, who grew up with his family on grasslands, is the kind of person who really feels the cold. Thanks to the heating in his dormitory, he doesn’t feel cold anymore even with just a thin blanket.

“After coming to Xining, my horizons have expanded a lot. In the classes, we have ‘visited’ many places and ‘met’ many people,” the student told People’s Daily.

As lunch time approached, a teaching seminar was still on in the library of the school.

“You feel confident in front of the class only if you’ve thoroughly mastered every concept and planned out exactly what to teach and how to teach it,” said Chen Wei, who teaches chemistry to 12th grade students at the school, to Bai Yufang, who teaches chemistry to 11th grade students, in a rather stern tone, while reviewing and correcting Bai’s teaching plan, going through it word by word.

Chen has been a teacher for over two decades. He’s a member of Shanghai’s fifth batch of education assistance team aiding Qinghai. Bai, who just started working a year ago, is both Chen’s colleague and apprentice.

“We have 62 teachers at the school, with an average age of only around 30. The majority of them were born in the 1990s. Although they lack teaching and management experience, they are highly adaptable and willing to accept new stuffs. They are full of energy,” said Chen, who has long regarded himself as a part of this place.

“Given that our students’ foundational knowledge is still relatively weak, it’s all the more important that we make our lessons engaging and thorough,” Chen told People’s Daily.

There are six other teachers who came to the school together with Chen. They are not accustomed to the altitude and climate there, and most of them have poor sleep and chest distress. However, none of them lowers the standards with regard to their jobs.

“We’re adapting Shanghai’s successful teaching methods and experiences to improve our systems, including teacher performance evaluations and student daily management,” said Chang Tu, principal of the Golog Xining Ethnic Middle School who came from the Chu’neng Middle School affiliated to the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.

Besides, teachers from Shanghai also take on management positions, trying to cultivate an outstanding local teaching team, Chang added.

Educational aid is about improving teaching capabilities of a certain place, and also the introduction of external educational resources to that place.

In August 2018, the Golog Xining Ethnic Middle School joined Datong Education Group based in Shanghai’s Huangpu district. Since then, the education bureau of Huangpu district has sent 80 education experts to Golog in 16 batches.

In June last year, 10 teachers of the Golog Xining Ethnic Middle School joined a training session organized by a joint teaching and research workshop established by Datong Education Group, turning the one-way educational aid into two-way exchanges.

“A total of 126 students joined the national college entrance exam last year, and 90 of them, or 71.43 percent, qualified for bachelor’s programs,” Chang said. According to him, the score of 69 students crossed the first-class admission threshold.

Just after 3:00 P.M., a classroom at the Golog Xining Ethnic Middle School was buzzing with activity – a meeting of the robotics club was going on.

Under the instruction of their teacher, Wang Huiyun, students were simulating scenarios for obtaining, storing, and using renewable energy.

“When we first started our information and technology classes, we began by teaching students how to type,” Wang said.

“But these kids are smart and hardworking,” he noted. After more than a year of study, they had not only mastered basic computer skills but also begun to explore and innovate on their own. Their efforts paid off at the 13th Qinghai province youth robotics competition, where the robotics club won second place in the middle school division.

According to Chang, the school has launched study tours to the Qinghai Provincial Museum and the Qinghai Natural Resources Museum, invited Chinese calligraphy experts to give lectures, and hosted featured sports games.

“With a science-based educational approach, we will comprehensively evaluate students’ growth, prioritizing moral development and tailoring teaching methods. Our aim is to instill in children both the courage to venture beyond their hometowns and the ability to contribute to their communities,” Chang remarked.


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