Lonely Planet Writer

A steel ladder has created a safer path for cliff village children to go to school in China

A steel ladder complete with handrails has been constructed so that children living in a mountaintop village in the Sìchuān province of China have a safer way to reach their school.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

The children live in Atuler village in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture. It is situated at the top of a 2624-foot-high peak at Meigu River Canyon.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

The village is so remote that only 72 families live there, and most of them make a living by growing chillies. Villagers also use the same ladder to attend the nearest market once a week to sell their products.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

Approximately 20 children attend the boarding school at the foot of the mountain. They journey to the school by ladder with backpacks on their back. Once they arrive at the school, they stay there for two weeks at a time.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

A set of parents take it in turns to pick the children up every time they go up or down the mountain. Prior to the new ladder being completed early in November, the children and their families were using a series of 17 rickety rattan ladders to climb the 800-metre cliff.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China, and prior to that, they used rickety rattan ladders. Image: imaginechina

Some of the schoolchildren are only six years of age, and it used to take them two hours to scale the cliff. The journey time has now been reduced by an hour thanks to the new ladder.

Pupils from Atuler village go home on a rattan ladder after school in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province of China.
Pupils from Atuler village go home on a rattan ladder after school in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province of China. Image by China Out/Getty Images

The journey by ladder between the village and the foot of the mountain has long been considered treacherous. In the past, eight people sadly lost their lives on it.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

Due to safety concerns, the steel ladder was built at a cost of 1 million yuan by the prefecture government and Zhaojue County. The journey was considered to be so dangerous, some children were not sent for education by their parents up to now.

A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina
A steel ladder creates a safer path for cliff village children in China. Image: imaginechina

The new ladder, which is made from 1500 steel pipes and has handrails, has made the whole undertaking a lot safer.