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China's 'Ice Boy' forced out of new school

Sky News logo Sky News 8/3/2018

Wang Fuman had icicles in his hair and eyelashes after his long walk to school © Other Wang Fuman had icicles in his hair and eyelashes after his long walk to school A Chinese boy whose frozen hair photo went viral has been thrown out of his new private school due to media attention. 

"Ice boy" Wang Fuman attracted international attention in January after he was pictured with icicles on his eyebrows, hair, eyelashes and his thin jacket after walking 4.5km to class in temperatures of -9C (15F).

After the eight-year-old's photo went viral, the headmaster of a private boarding school in the Yunnan town of Zhaotong, about an hour away from his home, offered to pay for him to have a place.

But, on Tuesday, after just over a week at Xinhua School, his father was asked to pick him up and take him back to his state school.

The father, Wang Gangkui, and son say they are both upset and do not understand.

Headmaster Yang said he offered the boy a free school place because he wanted to "do some good".

Zhaotong town, Yunnan province, China. Pic: Wikicommons/Icywater © Other Zhaotong town, Yunnan province, China. Pic: Wikicommons/Icywater However, he claimed he could not cope with the media attention and said the authorities identified Fuman as a pupil they wanted to help, so they were planning to continually inspect the school.

"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," he told the South China Morning Post.

"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. This was not what I wanted, so I had to tell Fuman's father to take the boy back to his original school."

Mr Yang said he does not like the media spotlight so had not told the press when he offered Fuman the free place. But he has given Fuman's father 15,000 yuan (£1,705) and said he would help the family if they had problems in the future.

Fuman told the South China Morning Post: "The teachers taught better than those at Zhuanshanbao Primary School. Pupils don't talk in class and everyone is focused on studying.

"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 made a heartbreaking Chinese New Year wish in February, asking for his mother to return to their remote village after leaving the family two years ago because she could not cope.

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