Move to clean energy leaves Chinese pupils out in the cold winter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 4:38pm

China’s rush to switch from coal to clean energy has forced primary school pupils in a northern province to stay outdoors.

During winter, when daytime temperatures in Hebei range from 2 to 9 degrees Celsius, children attending Nanyawo Primary School in Qicun village are made to run and engage in energetic exercise drills. The lack of indoor heating also means they are being taught alfresco, according to a report by China Youth Daily.

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The delay in equipping schools with adequate heating has been attributed to the countrywide campaign to promote clean energy, which has been hampered by the slow pace of infrastructure development in rural areas.

“When the cold becomes unbearable, I get them to run around the playground, which helps them stay warm,” said a teacher in Xiaotoukou Primary School, also in Qicun, who was quoted in the report.

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“[It has been] 20 days since winter set in, but some primary schools still do not have heating. It is better for the pupils to stay outside in the sparse sunlight than in the cold classrooms,” the newspaper quoted a parent as saying.

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While some Hebei schools have not yet swapped out their coal heaters for electric ones, others like Nanyawo Primary school cannot use their newly installed electric heating systems because of issues such as voltage fluctuation.

The Hebei government issued a notice in October 2016, outlining its campaign to declare 404 urban villages and 3,345 rural villages coal free within a year.