Wang Fuman, who rose to internet stardom as China’s “Ice Boy,” was kicked out of his new private school because the administration can no longer bear with the escalating scrutiny from authorities and pressure from the media.
In a photo that went viral in January, the eight-year-old’s hair turned white after walking in -9 degrees Celsius (15 degrees Fahrenheit) for over an hour just to get to Zhuan Shan Bao Primary School in Xinjie county, Yunnan province, a distance of 4.5 kilometers (2.7 miles) from their home in the remote village of Zhuanshanbao.
When the news broke out, cash donations started pouring in. Headmaster Yang of the private Xinhua School in Zhaotong, also in Yunnan, offered Fuman free enrollment as he wanted to “do some good.”
By February, the boy started attending his new school, which had a boarding facility. This saved him from the tedious trek he used to endure from their house in the mountain to his former state school.
Everything seemed to be going great for Fuman until his father, Wang Gangkui, was called to pick him up on March 6.
Apparently, Xinhua School just kicked his son out, asking to take him back to his former school after just over a week.
Headmaster Yang explained that intense scrutiny from authorities and excessive attention from the media came with Fuman’s enrollment. The school was eventually put under overwhelming pressure, and by Tuesday, he could no longer deal with such.
He told the South China Morning Post:
“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.”
“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.”
Yang maintained that he did not want to kick Fuman out. With the request to take him back to Zhuan Shan Bao Primary School, he gave the young boy’s father 15,000 yuan ($2,340).
He said that he plans to continue helping Fuman, but this time in a low-profile manner.
Unfortunately, the third-grader already likes Xinhua more than his former school, telling the Post that his new teachers were better. He also cited the fact that the opportunity saved him from his long walks.
“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.”
Fuman, of course, is not the only Chinese student coursing kilometers on foot when going to school. After his photo went viral, Alibaba founder Jack Ma said in a charity event that primary schoolers walk 5.4 kilometers (3.3 miles) from their home to school everyday.
The billionaire urged other entrepreneurs to work with him in building boarding schools in remote areas so that students, particularly “left-behind children,” can get proper and safe education.