More than 35,000 students in a city in southwest China's quake-hit Sichuan Province started the new school term a week late in tents and makeshift classrooms yesterday.
Altogether, 12,099 students resumed classes in tents while another 23,584 attended in undamaged or temporary classrooms converted from sports and entertainment centers in Panzhihua, Kong Wei, the local education bureau head, said. The city was one of the worst hit in the August 30 quake.
The 6.1-magnitude tremor killed at least 38 people in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.
'The earthquake has damaged 183 out of the 598 local schools, leaving more than one-fifth of the city's students without safe classrooms before the new school year,' Kong said.
The city requested tents after the earthquake and was overwhelmed by the response from all over the country.
In addition, China promised to provide more portable houses to ensure all students in the city could move out of tents before the winter set in.
Sun Yiwen, a grade-nine student, was among 750 students relocated to a nearby Party school from the Datian Middle School where the quake had devastated almost all the buildings.
'I am confident in myself for the new semester because it is almost as convenient as where I used to study,' he said.
However, students in Huili County in Sichuan's neighboring Yunnan weren't as lucky.
The county, which has been plagued by continuous aftershocks, postponed the start of its new semester to the end of October for the lack of prefabricated buildings and tents to house temporary classes and dormitories.
In total, 58 affected schools required 150,000 square meters of prefab buildings and 140 tents, said Hu Kun, the county's Communist Party secretary.
The county had initially postponed the new term until yesterday after 20 percent of its school buildings were damaged.
The quake affected 153 of the 290 primary and middle schools in Huili, damaging 2,520 school houses and causing 140 million yuan (US$20.5 million) in losses, according to the county education bureau.
(Shanghai Daily September 9, 2008)