‘Education is inseparable from caring’

When weaving together the cover article for the Oct. 16 print issue, Ann Scott Tyson wrestled with telling several stories in one. “It’s such an unusual story on so many levels,” she says.

In the simplest terms, it is a story about education in rural China. The last time Ann visited the remote village of Yangjiagou 30 years ago, she found children studying at a cave school amid hunger and poverty. For residents of urban China, the past three decades have profoundly changed life. Has rural China kept up?

But this is also a story about understanding. The Monitor’s Asia editor, Lindsey McGinnis, saw an opportunity to explore a place the world doesn’t often hear about. Travel outside China’s big cities was severely hampered for foreign journalists during the pandemic. Now that China has lifted those restrictions, rural areas offer a chance to gain a fuller picture of a country often viewed through the lens of geopolitical competition with the United States.