March 19, 2015

Thousands mourn death of Chinese high school principal who selflessly helped over 10,000 impoverished students, funeral wreaths sold out throughout his home county

March 15, early morning, Guangxi province Du’an Yao autonomous county seat.

Thousands appeared, wiping away tears, to say farewell to the deceased Du’an Yao autonomous county high school principal Mo Zhengao.

Over his 30 year career in education, Mo Zhengo collected donations and contributions from wherever he could, to help over ten thousand impoverished students from mountain regions continue their studies, hailed by these impoverished children as “Principal Dad”.

On March 9th, 59-year-old Mo Zhengao passed away from illness. All the funeral wreaths in the entire county were bought out, with alumni rushing back from Beijing, Shanghai, and such places, and top schools such as Tsinghua University’s Recruitment Office sending their condolences.

Why did the passing of an ordinary school principal cause such a big commotion? Teachers say Mo Zhengao’s life was a life of helping children study, allowing them to escape the impoverished mountainous areas of Yao.

School principal’s passing

Funeral wreaths throughout the county sold out

Tsinghua University Recruitment Office sends condolences

Guangxi province Du’an Yao autonomous county is a major target of the country’s poverty alleviation and economic development work. Here, “the natural environment is very poor, it is impoverished in the mountains, and the children study extremely hard. Despite it just being county high school, Du’an High School is quite well-known throughout all of Guangxi: for 20 years back-to-back, there have been students who have tested into top schools like Tsinghua University and Peking University, with nearly 1/3 of the students achieving scores qualifying them for first-tier/rate undergraduate universities.

Mo Zhengao worked at Du’an High School for 37 years, and on March 9th, he suddenly passed away from illness. This sad news quickly spread through the county, with grief permeating the public.

According to the school’s entrance guard Wei Rong, a former student hurried back and upon reaching the school’s entrance, began crying loudly.

19-year-old Wei Yuhua is a second-year high school student. She said in tears that when she learned of the principal’s death while in class, the teacher and students together began crying, knowing that the person who was the first at school every day and on windy and rainy days use the school’s public announcement broadcast system to remind students to dress warmly would forever be gone. On the evening of March 9th, students organized all 4600 students of the school in turning off the lights to observe a three minute moment of silence for Mo Zhengao.

People who knew and didn’t know Mo Zhengao all came to offer their condolences. The owner of a flower wreath shop in the county said he doesn’t know Mo Zhengao but people ordering flower wreaths packed the little shop, with many people even being forced to go to nearby Mashan county, Hechi city, and Nanning city to buy flower wreaths.

The number of people who rushed back to Du’an from places such as Beijing, Shanghai, as well as various places in Guangxi were not just a few. Among the 129 students that graduated from Du’an High School in 1991, over 70 students rushed back from various places, with some men breaking down in tears. Tsinghua University’s Recruitment Office, East China Normal University’s Higher Education Research Institute and many other universities and higher education organizations went out of their way to send their condolences. Several alumni who graduated from Du’an High School and are now abroad were likewise filled with emotion, with multiple professors from Harvard University and Ohio State University in the United States sending letters of condolences.

Within two days of Mo Zhengao’s passing, the number of views for the “Du’an High School Mo Zhengao” topic/hashtag on Sina Weibo reached 260k, with this news also dominating many people’s WeChat friends circles.


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