Article based on direct reports from China, May 28, 2018
Ark School in Xiaohe, a town situated in Xun County, near the city of Hebi, Henan, was founded by a local Christian, Ms. Liu in 2015. The government refused to issue the documents it needed because of its religious nature and eventually forcibly closed the school.
Local government tried to stop the construction
The founder of Ark school is Ms. Liu, who is also a preacher. The construction of the school was halfway through when the local government learned about Ark School’s religious nature and ordered to stop the project. To continue the construction, Liu has sought the help of people with connections and spent quite a sum of money. A year later, the school was finally built and opened on September 1, 2015. However, the government never agreed to issue documents for the school. As a result, its students did not have the enrollment status.
Ark School was set in a beautiful environment and had a good teaching staff. It gradually made a name for itself in the local area for its good study atmosphere and students’ excellent academic performance. Even some parents from the neighboring towns transferred their children to this school. In the end, the student number of Ark School totaled 300 with nine grades and ten classes.
The school forced to change its name
In July 2016, two Chinese characters 方舟 meaning Ark on the name plaque of the school were removed, leaving only “school.” The same characters on top of the teaching building were replaced with “Zhenxing” (meaning “to revive,” commonly used in phrases such as “revive China.”) thus changing the school’s name into “Zhenxing School.”
The local government still refused to issue the documents despite the change of the name.
Ark School ordered to close
On December 22, 2017, Xun County Education and Sports Bureau issued a notice ordering Zhenxing school (the old Ark School) to shut down before December 31 and send its students back to their original schools. Otherwise, the Bureau would close the school forcibly.
The local government often dispatched people to supervise the school who forbade anyone to talk about belief in Jesus and kept urging the school to stop classes. When the students were in classes, officials would sometimes come and interrupt them. The school pleaded with the government officials to give it more time so that the students could finish the autumn semester but met with absolute refusal. The officials kept harassing students and parents, forcing the students to quit the school. Some parents could not stand the coercion and transferred their children to other schools.
Ark School and Longyuan School merged
On March 5, 2018, the original Ark School was forced to merge with another local school, Longyuan School. After the merger, various slogans condemning religious beliefs were written on the blackboards of all the classrooms. The teachers told students to believe in science and not to have any religious beliefs because these beliefs were foreign. The students from the old Ark school were discriminated for their belief in Jesus.
Ark School, with its doors closed and the only residents being Liu and her family, appears desolate.