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Online education makes education accessible to rural areas

Reporter: Shi Wenjing 丨 CCTV.com

06-08-2016 13:12 BJT

City dwellers have no problem with online classes. But how is it like in rural areas? Online classes are kicking off a learning revolution, allowing students in remote areas to take part in classes that they could only dream of.

Hujiang, one of the largest online education platforms, set up a charity program that allows students better access to educational resources via remote teaching. So far more than 500 schools from twenty provinces have joined the program, benefiting some 100,000 students.

CCTV’s reporter visited a rural primary school, and explains how the online platform is making a difference.

Two months ago, Gong Fei started to teach on the online charity platform. Her students are hundreds or thousands of kilometres away.

But despite the distance, her students still hand in amazing work.

"I'm always amazed by the imagination shown by my students. Most students didn’t even take an art class before. So it is nice to bring more educational resources to rural areas in China. I’m so happy that more teachers are joining this online charity platform," said Gong Fei, teacher of Chagall Art Education, Shanghai.

Distance is no longer a problem when it comes to education. But it’s not just home learners who are benefiting. Schools are now getting in on the action.

We are now on our way to the remote primary school which is nearly 70 km away from the capital city of Henan province. You really cannot feel the distance until you are physically here.

56-year-old Wang Juqun is the headmaster of this remote primary school, which has seen no newly-graduated teachers for the past fifteen years.

Wang said there are currently nine teachers in this school for more than 150 students.

Chinese and Maths were the only subjects taught before the introduction of the online course platform which the headmaster says has made a big difference.

Wang said, "We used to have a computer which was given by the government nine years ago. But it doesn’t help much in terms of work because internet speeds are slow. We joined the online course platform offered by the Hujiang charity program at the end of last year."

"Now our students are able to learn extra-curricular subjects that we cannot offer, such as English, science and even art. There is much anticipation about the online courses."

The chance to expand their horizons beyond their village has made these students less shy and more confident.

And for teachers, the online platform has also given them a chance to try more innovative forms of teaching.

"This week we are giving students the chance to take part in an experience called the Balloon Baby. We asked them to wear a balloon for 48 hours. We want them to experience the feeling of being a parent," said Qi Tuoyu, teacher of Lankao Chengzhuang Primary School, Henan.

"Instead of lecturing, we let students experience and feel. They are then asked to write down their feelings, and we share them together."

Mrs Qi has been teaching for more than twenty years. She travels more than 40 kilometers per day by scooter between her home and school.

Being a late comer to online education, she has become both a student and promoter of this new method of learning.

She says her students look forward to online classes. Every time she sees students smile when they learn new things from the online platform, she sees the possibility of improving educational resources in rural China.

Meanwhile, fifth-grade Liu Lu is on her way to school as usual with her friend. She’s excited because she’ll have a class today with Miss Gong, who’s based in Shanghai.

To Liu and her peers, it’s their first chance to learn how to make art out of clay.

Their task today is to make a crocodile. Not easy for beginners, but Liu Lu and her classmates finish the task quite well, and got the chance to show their work to their remote teacher.

Liu said, "It is fun to play with clay. I even named by artwork. Next time I’d like to make a flower for my teacher. Also, I want to learn more from the art classes, such as paper cutting and how to make a flower using a piece of paper."

In China, there are more than 140,000 similar rural primary schools. Most of them are facing the same challenges posed by limited educational resources.

But with online courses making it easier to access knowledge wherever you are, it is hoped that all students across the country will soon have the same opportunities.

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