Renovating a boarding school in China

The remoteness of villages in China means that many primary schools provide boarding facilities during the week. Xiao Feng Primary School was in desperate need of renovation to create a safe and hygienic environment.

Brazil Building Futures

The need

Xiao Feng Primary School, established in 1984, is a six-grade primary school that provides primary education for children coming from five residential areas in the foothills. About 40 students and five teachers stay over at the school during the week.

The school was severely damaged by the Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, after which the state of classrooms and boarding rooms varied from dilapidated to dangerous. Both school facilities and infrastructure were damaged, forcing the evacuation of most of the classrooms. The grade five and six classes had to be moved to another school. After the earthquake, the structures were refurbished as far as small donations would allow. The classrooms were still being used, even though they were dangerous, unsafe and unhygienic.

Hui said:

“There were very few participatory activities for students in the school that I went to previously, but at Xiao Feng Primary School, our teachers often give us instruction on participating in various extra-curricular activities. Thanks to my teachers’ instruction and encouragement, I have gradually begun to have confidence and courage. I found the whole thing very impressive and meaningful. I feel extraordinarily proud and happy to see my fellow students’ cheerful faces!”

Jiafu, a parent from Xiafeng, said:

“With the support of Study Group, the school has changed greatly over the years. The classrooms are wide and bright, while the campus is clean and tidy. The parents are very satisfied to have their children studying here. We are grateful to Study Group and Plan.”

What we achieved

There were two stages to the project, both managed by the experienced NGO, Plan International. Our first project was completed in December 2009. This focused on rebuilding the damaged school and included the construction of 12 classrooms, a kitchen and dormitory, eight latrines and the supply of furniture and sports equipment.

The extension project, completed in February 2011, focused on improving the school’s outside spaces and provided additional facilities and equipment. Both projects ensured that the pupils of Xiao Feng Primary School received quality education in a safe, hygienic, stimulating and engaging environment.

The projects successfully:

  • Built four classrooms. Additionally, nine rooms were refurbished; one kitchen, one two classrooms for younger children and five teachers’ offices
  • Built and installed eight latrines and rubbish disposal tank
  • Made campus improvements including; restoring the school gate and boundary wall; and the building of a flag platform, school garden and cementing of the school pathway to enhance the environment and make the school safer
  • Equipped the school with new sports equipment to be used in physical education lessons.

The impact

The newly constructed areas at Xiao Feng School provided 121 students with new classrooms. In addition, the newly built latrines and all of the nine refurbished rooms are in use. Another improvement is the access to clean tap water, which now runs from the school kitchen. The school campus has been improved by the construction of a flood embankment, a rubbish disposal tank and an ornamental garden area.

Throughout both projects, there was a high level of community participation, which has helped ensure the sustainability of this project, even seven years later. Additionally, since 2009, the government has invested a further £60,000 in to the school to expand the canteen, teachers’ offices and classrooms, which has improved the school environment and classroom conditions. Now the school has a computer room, more than 5000 books in the library, and 160 pieces of sports equipment.

During construction, Plan International organised different types of activities for the children and training for the teachers. The project helped teachers learn the significance of extra-curricular activities for children and were shown how to encourage students in the school to participate.

Hui, a girl in Grade Five in Xiaofeng Primary School, has participated in several group activities since joining the school in September 2017: Campus Child Safety, Health and Sanitation Hand-copied Newspaper Exhibition Activity, Campus Child Calligraphy and Drawing Activity and Campus Child Cozy Dorm Environment Speech Contest.

The leaders of the child activity group are elected by the child representatives. Through such child activities, children in the schools, especially girls, can improve leadership skills and as one of the organizers of these activities, Hui encourages her fellow students to actively participate in such activities and express and themselves bravely.

I feel extraordinarily proud and happy to see my fellow students’ cheerful faces!

Hui, a student

China school