The village had a population of a few thousand and has stayed so till today. As a result, it never had enough resources nor population to support a higher education facility. You can find one high school and one middle school and one high school on the map. But where’s the elementary school? Well, villagers found a way around this. The elementary school was no more than a regular room within someone’s house, behind some obscure housing blocks. I remember getting textbooks consisting no more than 16 pages from the market, as instructed by my elementary teacher, who was no more than “someone who happened to teach a few words & phrases”. The content of the textbook ran along the line of “Dad is working. Mom is cooking meal”. The classroom had six desks and twelve chairs, and at any given time it had only six to eight students maximum.
I never had the chance to attend middle school and high school here as I moved to a nearby town when of age.
Story of Schools Which I Never Attended
Despite passing them by everyday on the way to picking jasmine buds, I never paid them much attention. I had the impression that these schools were not fully functional. The middle school was practically an abandoned building. Its only contribution to the village was its basketball course, which was of outdoor type so adolescents could take their semi-inflated basketballs here, bouncing the basketballs with some effort since they weren’t fully inflated.
I couldn’t recall a moment where the middle school with a student or a teacher in its hallways. The middle school has become a target for various advertisements: its outer walls were decorated with ads such as “Duck feather wanted: 1370343xxxx”, “Electronics repair service: 1370512xxxx” or similar. These ads also appeared on utility poles nearby.
The field between these two schools was completely abandoned, and I often saw oxen grazing away at various vegetations there. They did not seem to mind the deserted space giving way to wild plants and trash.
The high school was at least operational for some time in my memory. Broken windows and gravel-covered tracks spoke to the state of the high school nowadays. A couple of ping-pong tables under a banyan tree next to the school entrance offered some entertainment in the hot summer days. I was surprised to find a small yet operational convenience store in the empty school selling ramen noodles. I could hardly imagine there’re students to sustain its business.
The younger generation headed to cities for opportunities, leaving these rural schools to their fate. I couldn’t help but to wonder, were students or teachers the first ones to jump on the city-ward bandwagon? Did students faced a shortage of teacher, therefore deciding their own educations elsewhere, or the other way around?