Students Asked to BYO Desks and Chairs

In some of the rural villages in Hubei Province in China, desks and chairs are in short supply. So students have taken to carrying their own furniture to school, though sometimes they get a little help from an older brother, sister, or even grandpa.

There are more than 5,000 students in Shunhe town’s primary and middle schools, but the government only supplied 2,000 desks. That leaves 3,000 children to bring their own desks from home.

One five-year-old student uses a desk and chair that belonged to her dad. He also used it in primary school twenty years ago. The desk is too big for her, but it is better than nothing.

[Miss Chen, Villager of Lindian Village in Shunhe County]:
“It is like this here. Everyone has to bring their own desk in our area; everyone brings their own desks. The school doesn’t have desks. It has been like this for decades, it’s always like this.”

[Member of the Shunhe Village Committee]:
“There are some [students] in our school [who have to bring their own desks].”

The school buildings are old and falling apart. In some areas, there isn’t even enough money to pay the teachers.

A former professor of Shandong University said that the government has spent a huge amount of money on the military and what’s called “stability maintenance,” but not much on education.

[Sun Wen Guang, Former Professor, Shandong University]:
“A large amount of money was appropriated to “maintain stability” and on projects such as the 290 billon yuan Olympics, but very little money is spent on education. Therefore, the school funding gets very restricted.”

Many parents in Shunhe are worried about having to find desks for their children. One Shunhe grandparent says, “I am hoping that before I die I can see the children going to school without carrying desks.”

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