A private school that had offered China’s famous “Ice Boy” a free education expelled him this week after the headmaster claimed they could not cope with the increased government pressure and media scrutiny.
The headmaster enrolled eight-year-old Wang Fuman in the private Xinhua School in southwestern Yunnan province after being touched by the viral photograph of the boy arriving at his primary school in Yunnan with his hair covered in ice.
The photo sparked greater awareness of the plight of China’s rural communities, many of whom have suffered recently from the government’s decision to limit access to fuel sources, allegedly to combat climate change.
One week into his new education, the boy was asked to leave the school by its headmaster, who said he could not deal with the level of government and media scrutiny of the boy’s progress.
“I’m illiterate and I don’t understand why this school has kicked us out,” his father Wang Gangkui told the South China Morning Post.
“The teachers taught better than those at Zhuanshanbao Primary School. Pupils don’t talk in class and everyone is focused on studying,” added Fuman himself:
I lived there and didn’t need to walk a long way to get to school. I only needed to join running exercises every morning. I ate better, too. Unlike at home, when my granny is busy, my sister and I need to find food for ourselves … because we don’t know how to cook, we just boil potatoes, but at Xinhua school I ate so many different things.
The school’s headmaster, who only gave the name Yang, told the outlet that although he accepted the boy with the best of intentions, he was not expecting the onslaught that ensued, which involved government departments repeatedly asking to inspect the school.
“At first, I didn’t know … but later, I found out that Fuman had been identified by the Ministry of Education as a key figure to be helped in the government’s poverty alleviation efforts. There are very few such pupils in the whole Yunnan province,” Yang said.
“As a result, during these days of having him in my school, we received numerous requests from various levels of government departments to inspect us. Many media outlets also insisted on interviewing us. It was impossible for me to reject many of these requests.”
As an individual identified by the regime to achieve poverty alleviation, Fuman’s exposure to a less heavily regulated private education would likely have caused concern for Chinese authorities.
“This was not what I wanted, so I had to tell Fuman’s father to take the boy back to his original school,” Wang added.
Public education in China is stringently regulated and programmed to promote the ideals of the Chinese Communist Party. Last year, authorities announced that children’s textbooks would include more references to the ideology President Xi Jinping and criticisms of western ideals.
Propaganda in textbooks includes false claims that China controls the majority of the South China Sea. The government also officially condemns homeschooling for fear that parents will pivot away from the state-run curriculum.
The country’s department of education has also ordered universities to make communist ideology “trendy” and “fashionable” again, partly through the release of numerous hip-hop anthems filled with pro-Chinese, pro-Marxist messages designed to attract the attention of younger generations. Some universities even offer courses on the ideology of Mao Zedong, the late dictator who oversaw the deaths of over 45 million people.