Ru­ral board­ing schools need dorm man­agers, re­port says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The ab­sence of dor­mi­tory man­agers in ru­ral board­ing schools is ad­versely af­fect­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in those schools, a re­port said.

The re­port, which fo­cuses on el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion in China’s poor ru­ral ar­eas, was re­leased on Aug 15 in Bei­jing by the China Foun­da­tion for Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion and the Heren Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion.

The re­port said that only 45 of the 101 board­ing schools sur­veyed hire spe­cial­ized man­agers to look af­ter chil­dren and man­age the dor­mi­to­ries.

About 55 per­cent of teach­ers also serve as man­age­rial staff, the re­port said.

“Many schools can’t af­ford to em­ploy spe­cial­ized staff to man­age the dor­mi­to­ries, and this work is of­ten done by in­struc­tors or head teach­ers, which af­fects the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion,” said Wang Lip­ing, the deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the Heren Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion.

The study con­ducted in­ter­views with 451 teach­ers and 1,382 stu­dents from 21 prov­inces in poor ru­ral ar­eas.

The re­port found that about 40 per­cent of the stu­dents choose to live in their schools, and 15.3 per­cent of those stu­dents are dis­sat­is­fied or very dis­sat­is­fied with their ac­com­mo­da­tions.

The re­port also said some schools dis­trib­ute the dor­mi­tory as­sign­ments ran­domly, plac­ing stu­dents of dif­fer­ent ages to­gether.

Wang said the per­for­mance of teach­ers suf­fers when they also must serve as dor­mi­tory man­agers.

“Th­ese teach­ers are of­ten busy with their daily teach­ing and cor­rect­ing home­work,” she said.

“How can they find time to en­joy life and deal with prob­lems in the stu­dents’ lives?”

In ad­di­tion, those teach­ers haven’t re­ceived dorm-man­age­ment train­ing, so they might make mis­takes that could cre­ate safety is­sues, she added.

The re­port said chil­dren live in dor­mi­to­ries be­cause their homes are far from school, their par­ents work in other cities and can’t look af­ter them, or the stu­dents want a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion.

Chen Yun­sheng, prin­ci­pal at the cen­tral pri­mary school in Baiyun, in Wu­long county, Chongqing, told China Daily that about 60 of the school’s 300 stu­dents live in the school dor­mi­tory, but they have only one teacher, who is older than 50, to man­age them.

“The dor­mi­tory was con­verted from a class­room and the bath­room was added later. Each dorm has 20 to 30 stu­dents. Liv­ing con­di­tions are ob­vi­ously a prob­lem,” Chen said.

He said the school once con­sid­ered hir­ing oth­ers to man­age the dor­mi­tory, but do­ing so would have been too ex­pen­sive.

An­other prin­ci­pal, from the cen­tral pri­mary school in Qi­uba, in Luanchuan coun­try, He­nan prov­ince, said they didn’t have spe­cial­ized board­ing man­age­ment per­son­nel. Only two teach­ers man­age the 210 stu­dents who live in the dor­mi­tory.

How­ever, he said, the teacher is re­spon­si­ble and the school didn’t con­sider hir­ing new man­age­ment staff.

Both of the two groups that con­ducted the sur­vey ap­pealed to schools to hire more spe­cial­ized peo­ple to man­age dor­mi­to­ries who would have time to talk to the chil­dren and of­fer them guid­ance while re­duc­ing the po­ten­tial safety haz­ard. In ad­di­tion, the cen­tral govern­ment needs to in­vest more in ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion, the groups said.

Wang Lin, an ex­pert from the Chi­nese So­ci­ety of Ed­u­ca­tion, doesn’t sup­port hav­ing el­e­men­tary school chil­dren liv­ing in dor­mi­to­ries at all. “They should stay with their mothers and get care and af­fec­tion from them,” she said.

Wang said the spe­cial­ized dor­mi­tory man­age­ment staff could also tell sto­ries, sing songs and play games with the chil­dren to en­rich their lives and com­pen­sate for be­ing with­out their par­ents.

LIU XIAO / XIN­HUA

Pupils play games in their dor­mi­tory in July in Li­uba county, North­west China’s Shaanxi prov­ince.

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