BEIJING — Just to get home from school, they climb 800 meters toward the sky — on a ladder made of bamboo and secured to a sheer cliff face.
After pictures surfaced of the challenging trek faced by schoolchildren in a poor corner of China's mountainous west, their village may be getting some assistance by way of a safer, more modern piece of infrastructure: a solid set of steel stairs.
The hardship faced by residents in the village of Atuleer in Sichuan province underscores the vast gap in development between China's prosperous, modern east and parts of the remote inland west that remain mired in poverty.
The bamboo ladder is the only means of access to the village to which the 15 children age 6-15 return every two weeks from the school at which they board. The 72 families who live there are members of the Yi minority group and subsist mainly by farming potatoes, walnuts and chili peppers.