China will finally make children’s journey to school a little safer when they put a 2,625-foot ladder out of commission and replace it with stairs.
According to Fox News, the bamboo ladder on the side of a cliff in the village of Atuleer in Sichuan province, China, was the only way for boarding school students to get home every two weeks. There are 15 children, ages 6 to 15, who have to climb the dangerous ladder to get to the village.
On Friday, a news release from the Liangshan prefectural government in China that oversees the county reassured the village that a solid set of steel stairs will be built to accommodate travelers while officials find a better and more permanent solution to the traveling problem.
The trip down the half-mile ladder on the side of a cliff is so dangerous and exhausting that children from Atuleer, China, only come home every two weeks. It takes over two hours to make the trip, according to CNN. Some parents volunteer to supervise the children as they climb the ladder, which is actually made of 17 ladders. The locals call the treacherous ladders “sky ladders.”
While children in the U.S. have to hear about their parents walking barefoot in the snow uphill, oftentimes both ways, to get to school, these 15 children in China can tell their children about having to climb a steep 2,625-foot ladder down the side of a cliff in order to get home from school. It’s almost unheard of, and it’s been embarrassing for officials in western China since the story has been exposed.
Astonishingly, most of the children are not scared of climbing the ladder, but some have admitted that they’ve been scared when they’ve seen other children nearly fall from the ladder. Everything hangs in the balance when these children must make their way to and from school on ladders.
At any moment, a child could suddenly lose his or her coordination and plummet to the ground, most likely to his or her death.
Photographer Chen Jie decided to visit the ladder when the children were returning home from school and document their journey with pictures. Chen said it was difficult to imagine what it was like climbing up the ladder, let alone having to climb down it.
He was soon able to see just how the children were able to carefully make their way into their village by using the dangerous sky ladders.
“Think about it. City parents get worried when their spoiled kids aren’t happy, but what the kids here face is a formidable abyss — they could fall any second,” he said, referring to children from the wealthy city of Beijing, China.
For its part, Beijing has promised to deliver a plan to tackle poverty in the village of Atuleer.
In addition to the dangers of having to use the ladder to get home from school, the ladder is the only thing that connects the small village of mostly farmers to trading and tourism in China.
“The most important issue at hand is to solve the transport issue. That will allow us to make larger-scale plans about opening up the economy and looking for opportunities in tourism,” county Communist Party Secretary General Jikejingsong said in a news release.
The county is considering building a road to the poor village in China so the villagers would not depend on the ladder or the future steps, but the costs to do such a thing would be extraordinary.
[Image via Shutterstock]