Photos: Chinese children carry burning torches to school
It was the first day of the new semester at Baoping Elementary school in the town of Wamiao administered by Ziyang County, Shaanxi Province. In order not to be late for school, 12-year-old Zhang Huaying (张华英) got up at 5 a.m. as usual. Her home is nearly 10 kilometers (6 miles) away and a drop of 200 meters (660 feet) from the school. After she brushed her teeth, washed her face, and chowed down a bowl of stir-fried rice prepared by her grandmother, she carried her school bag and held a burning torch to hit the road.
With the light emitted form the torch, Zhang Huaying walked in the mountain that otherwise would be pitch-dark. Over half an hour passed before she arrived in a classmate of hers who lives in the same valley. They went together for another half hour before joining students at the same school living in another valley. The entire group of students held burning torches and sang happy songs while hurrying on with their journey. When dawn broke over the valley, they trampled out the torches to prevent wildfires. At around 7:50 a.m., Zhang Huaying finally finished the 10km trip and stepped into the school gate with her nine companions.
Over 50 students at Baoping Elementary school live in the mountain or in valleys that are distant from the school. Altogether more than 200 students in the town of Wamiao have the same problem. They spend three to six hours to and fro, which consumes not only their energy but much of their time that could have been spent on studying. Especially in winter when days are short, they have to endure darkness twice a day. The students desire a boarding school that spares them the trouble of carrying a burning torch to school.