The executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, Jack Ma, is really worried about the country’s next generation, and rightly so.
The business magnate called upon all other entrepreneurs who were attending an event organized by his charitable foundation, to support him in building boarding schools, which he thinks is a solution to China’s "left-behind" children who often live in poverty and have to make serious efforts to get a basic education.
Almost 60 million children are left behind in rural areas by their parents while they seek for work in coastal cities. These parents are aware of the dangers their children can face when left on their own, but their low-income backgrounds doesn’t leave them with much of a choice.
Last year, the plight of such children was highlighted after the picture of a kid, named, Wang Manfu, better known as “Ice Boy,” went viral. The child’s hair and eyebrows were covered in ice because he had to walk for over an hour to get to his school.
According to the Ministry of Education, primary school students walk 5.4 kilometers (3.3 miles) on average from their home to school every day.
"Many pupils have to climb mountains or take a boat to go to school. In my opinion, these kids should not be commuting between home and school every day — they should go to a boarding school," Ma said.
Ma plans on combining rural schools that have less than 100 students with fewer resources into boarding schools. He also wants the boarding schools to provide a bus service that would pick up children from their villages on Mondays and return them to their homes on Fridays.
The boarding schools would offer the children better education and accommodation, Ma believes.
“I hope we entrepreneurs can push this plan to merge school resources. I encourage all of you to participate and make a contribution to your home provinces by building dormitories and donating school buses,” said the tech-giant.
Thumbnail/Banner: Reuters, Ruben Sprich