For the children of the Atule’er village in China, the journey to and from school is usually a matter of life and death, with a whole lot of vertigo in between. I’m not just saying that because walking to school in the wee hours can feel like a literal death grip, I’m saying that because their village is located at an altitude of 4600 feet, and the isolated nature of the village makes it staggeringly hard to get anywhere without risk.
In fact, according to Huanqiu, the children have to navigate precarious, unsecured vine ladders on the side of a steer drop rock face to travel to school. Their cliff village sits on top of a 2,624-foot-tall peak, while the school is at the bottom of this mountain.
Only 72 families live in this village, which is located in the county of Zhaojue County in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province. The children spend 2 weeks at the Le’er Primary School once they complete the journey, after which they climb back up the same treacherous ‘ladder’ to go home.
The journey can take more than two hours for the children, and apart from being potentially deadly, it’s also very tiring, especially considering the children are as young as 6 years old.
According to officials, the life-threatening journey has resulted in the death of at least eight people over the years. If it rains or snows, the danger doubles.
The perils of the trek have also dissuaded some parents from sending their children to school even after they’ve reached school age.
While the villagers would welcome a road connecting them to different areas, the high cost of building and low number of people living there is a major deterrent towards government efforts. “The main problems is that we can easily move the villagers to a nearby city but without their farm land they have no job. They have good land resources and have a high yield of crops. Building a road to the village would cost 60 million yuan (£6.2 million) which is not cost effective because the number of people is so low.” office secretary Ji Ke Jin Song said. A sad state of affairs. No child should have to risk their life for a basic education.
Pictures from Huanqiu.