BEIJING • The story of a Chinese schoolboy who braved harsh winter conditions to get to school has triggered an avalanche of help for him and his school.
A donation of 100,000 yuan (S$20,540) was sent to Zhuanshanbao Primary School in Zhaotong, Yunnan province, on Wednesday, after images of "Snowflake Boy" Wang Fuman drew widespread attention to children from poor rural families, China Daily reported.
Photos of eight-year-old Fuman in class, shared by his principal Fu Heng, showed the icicles that had formed on his hair and eyebrows during his one-hour, 4.5km walk in minus 9 deg C conditions to go to school on Monday.
Mr Fu said it was the first day of the final examinations, and temperatures had plunged quickly within half an hour, while the boy was already on his way to school.
The boy lives in a mud house in Ludian with his grandmother and older sister. Their father is a migrant worker in another city. The boy's mother had left the family, according to an interview with social media site Pear Video.
In an interview with Beijing News, Fuman said his favourite subject is mathematics, and he hopes to do well enough in school to study in Beijing eventually.
When asked why he went to school on Monday wearing so little, he said: "I have three jackets, but I didn't wear any of them because they were all dirty and not washed yet. It is too cold to wash clothes by hand in winter."
I have three jackets, but I didn't wear any of them because they were all dirty and not washed yet. It is too cold to wash clothes by hand in winter.
WANG FUMAN, when asked why he went to school on Monday wearing so little.
Fuman also said his school has no heating facilities.
The local government, along with volunteers, has since dis-tributed the first batch of winter supplies to the 81 pupils, China Daily reported.
The Kunming branch of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau also donated 144 sets of winter clothing and 20 heaters to the school, according to the Beijing News.
In total, cash donations to help the boy and his school have so far reached more than 17 million yuan, China Daily reported.
Readers of The Straits Times have also offered to help after reading about Fuman's story. They have written in to find out how they can reach the boy.
Fuman is among millions of children who live in poverty-stricken areas in China, and his story has highlighted the issue of educational inequality in the country, the Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times said in an op-ed column on Wednesday.
CALL FOR MORE SUPPORT
For (them), education is perhaps the only opportunity to climb the ladder of social status.
CHINESE STATE-RUN TABLOID GLOBAL TIMES, which argued that rural students should be given more educational support.
It argued that rural students should be given more educational support. "For (them), education is perhaps the only opportunity to climb the ladder of social status."
Fuman's father, Mr Wang Gangkui, told Beijing News that many people have offered to help the family after Fuman's photo went viral, but he wants his son to study hard and change his destiny through his own efforts.