School building funded by donation rented to car dealer, driving students to tile-roofed house
Only two weeks after an elementary school built with donations from by Hong Kong philanthropist Run Run Shaw went into use, members of the committee that administers the rural village in northwest China leased out the building to an auto dealership for 10 years. About a hundred students enrolled at the school have been sent to a decades-old tile-roofed house, where the ground is puddled and pitted and can even sink on rainy days as a result of air-raid shelters tunneled beneath, according to concerned parents.
Construction of Zhaocun Yifu (Romanized Chinese name of Run Run Shaw) Elementary School was started in April 2007 and completed at the end of 2009. Students moved in in May 2010. Of the total cost of 1.9 million yuan ($302,000), more than 254,000 yuan was an earmarked donation from the Hong Kong philanthropist Run Run Shaw’s education funds. The rest was raised by the local government bureau and the village.
The official explanation of Zhaocun to the lease was that students and teachers were harassed by the noises coming from a high-speed railway about 20 meters away, which also poses danger to students’ safety. “That’s why parents proposed renovating the old school,” said Li Wusheng, director of the village’s supervision committee. Li also added that they leased out the school building for 1.75 million yuan for the ten years in order to repay the money they owed to the construction crew.
Liang Jun, a legal advisor to the auto dealer, said the company, while having invested more than 10 million yuan in running the dealership, had no knowledge that the building and yard mentioned in their contract were intended for the school. Nor did they have any idea that it was one of the many charity projects in China funded by the Run Run Shaw foundation. “Otherwise, our company would not have leased it,” Liang said.
Playground of Zhaocun Yifu Elementary School has been turned to Weida Auto Dealership’s showroom.
The three-storey school building has been converted to the dealership’s office building.
On February 17, children were studying in the old Zhaocun Elementary School, which is a tile-roofed house built in 1970s.
On February 17, children played on the playground of the old Zhaocun Elementary School.
Selected comments from Weibo
唐秦照明：The Hong Kong philanthropist came all the way to the mainland to perform charity. And you guys take advantage of his charity work like this? Heart-chilling…
刘博爱生活：It seems in the eyes of some people, there is nothing important except money and power.
顾卡卡：Having embezzled the money, aren’t they afraid of dying without descendants?!
给力哥新：Charity works have been trampled underfoot like this. Then who will bother to do charity work!!
nw928：Since the ancient times, officials have always been in cahoots with merchants. And it is the people who suffer.
天水景延峰：Some people have the gall to do bad things because they are not held accountable.
下手就是快：Shameful! These people are the dregs of the society! It is not worth any sympathy even if they die a hundred times!! Our poor kids.
鼻涕虫的思想：Aren’t they afraid of karma?
Souledlove：Those black-hearted upstarts! Their good conscience has been eaten by monsters.
逸凡学不会：I can only say that the unbelievable country has been as unbelievable as always.