Bazhu Primary School
Bazhu Primary School has taken part in the Water School for a Living Yangtze programme since the beginning of Phase I in 2008. Surrounded by huge sacred mountains and thick forests, Bazhu Primary School is located just below the source of Bazhu River, a tributary of the upper-reaches of the Yangtze in Bazhu Administrative Village in Weixi County, part of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province.
Situated deep in the mountains on the edge of Shangri-la, Bazhu Community has little contact with the outside world. Before joining the Water School programme students and teachers at Bazhu primary school were not used to meeting people from other places, and few had traveled outside of their county. By attending workshops in Beijing and Shangri-la, teachers have had the opportunity to see new places, and meet and share experiences with other Water School teachers. Initially shy and reserved, students at Bazhu Primary School now confidently hold activities to tell other villagers, local communities and even strangers how to protect local water resources.
Water education on campus
While the school is located in one of the poorest and least developed parts of China – some students walk up to 10km a day to attend classes; it is also surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature in the whole country. The school focuses on improving students’ habits and raising environmental awareness, with water education becoming part of the daily curriculum. Teachers apply learning from the water school project in all subjects, from science and geography, to social learning and literature. They utilise knowledge of local rivers, mountains and forests so that students can relate to this learning, and understand the importance of protecting the environment.
Going into nature
Apart from having lessons in the classroom, students partake in interactive learning also. As Bazhu village is a rural area on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau abundant natural resources, the children have a wealth of opportunities for in-depth learning about a variety of ecosystems, and rich cultural & biological diversity. Activities have included investigating the source of the water in their home; clearing up rubbish and debris in the forests and river; putting up wooden notices with environmental slogans and instructions on watershed protection; and exploring the habitat of endemic and endangered species such as the Yunnan Golden Monkey.
Linking with the community
Bazhu River is the primary source of water for drinking and agriculture, with… the local communities rely on it for their livelihoods. The Tibetan village of Bazhu is home to 267 families, with a total population of 1,373 people including 679 women. There is a strong natural connection between the local community and the watershed; indigenous knowledge, traditional practices and cultural values play an important role in relating to water conservation. For this reason, the teachers and students have been very successful in their community outreach work, and have collaborated on activities such as a river clean up and the development of eco-friendly livelihoods.
Activity: Investigation of Water Shortages
Qi Bie village just north of Bazhu has a population of only 20 families, with access to only two springs the villagers experience serious water shortages every year from November to May. During this time villagers have to travel over 10km to Bazhu in order to get water for everyday use, this has lead to many problems between locals from different villages who will often argue over water resources. Bazhu Primary School organised a trip to Qi Bie to investigate and understand their water situation and the reasons behind the shortage. Through this visit and following discussions, students from Bazhu learned the great importance of local water resources.