There’s relatively nothing interesting about this cave…except for the scores of children solving arithmetic in its shadows.

Situated in a small place called Mao village in Ziyun County, China, the Dongzhong Cave School has been a place of learning since 1984.

Dongzhong Cave School

The cave, which was formed from thousands of years of carving by wind, water, and seismic shifts, is clearly a beautiful and unique place to get an education, but the people of Miao didn’t choose it for its pretty view.

Guizhou, the southwest region that Miao is found in, is one of the poorest provinces of China. Water and food shortages caused by desertification and drought have left the region regularly struggling to keep its people alive.

The lack of everything else needed to live has also translated to a lack of educational resources. For most children in the province, schooling is not an option.

With little to no support available from the government, the Miao people decided to take education into their own hands. Lacking resources to build, they decided to make one cave into their elementary school, aptly naming it Mid-Cave Primary School. Dongzhong was opened in 1984, employing 8 teachers to teach 186 students.

Beyond the cave’s natural beauty, there is very little to the humble school. There are wooden classrooms and desks for teaching, and a makeshift basketball court for recess.

Yet despite its bare interior, teachers have found several natural benefits of teaching there – the acoustics are perfect for choir training, biology is a hands on experience thanks to influx of lizards and bats, and it’s a haven for the instruction of biology.  

Unfortunately the Chinese government saw differently, and in early 2011 closed the Dongzhong Cave School down. “China is not a society of cavemen” they stated.

The positive effects that the school had and the voiced outrage of disgruntled teachers have led the government to bring a modernized facility to the people of Miao.

A glance inside Guizhou

There’s not much to do for tourists in Guizhou province as far as city life is concerned, but enjoying nature is bountifully available. There are many places to hike around these beautiful mountains; one place you won’t want to miss is the waterfall.

Huangguoshu Waterfall

Near Anshun, Huangguoshu Waterfall is the largest waterfall in China. Watch your step getting there though, the paths are slippery and the bushes are thorny!

Huangguoshu Waterfall, China
Huangguoshu Waterfall, China

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