Vulnerable children living in one of China"s poorest areas are receiving wearable high-tech devices to help keep them safe.
About 100,000 primary school students in Bijie, Guizhou province, will receive new watch-phones fitted with satellite tracking that can provide real-time information on their whereabouts to parents, guardians, officials and teachers.
All of the children have been left behind in towns and villages by parents who have moved away for work, so the phones will also make it easier for these families to stay in contact, according to a statement from the city government.
The city and counties spent a combined 24 million yuan ($3.6 million) to purchase the devices, which are made by Hubaoxing (Guardian Star). The authorities will also cover a monthly network fee of about 15 yuan for each child, which entitles them to 200 minutes of calling and 500 megabytes of data.
So far, the watch-phones have been provided to 4,199 students in Qianxi and Dafang counties and Qixingguan district, said Tao Jin, an official at the city department responsible for the care of left-behind children.
Training courses will be arranged for children after they receive their watchphones. It will provide detailed instructions on how to use the different functions.
Guizhou is one of the poorest provinces in China, and Bijie has long been known for its large number of left-behind children. A number of tragedies involving them have occurred in the villages surrounding Bijie.
In 2012, five children in Bijie died from carbon monoxide poisoning when burning charcoal to keep warm in a roadside dumpster. In 2015, four siblings between 5 and 13, committed suicide by consuming pesticide at their home.
The watch-phone initiative assigns a local official and a teacher to each left-behind child to keep an eye on them and prevent danger.
The Bijie government said it has been making steady efforts to take better care of children who are left without parental care since the 2012 incident. Safety inspections of left-behind children"s homes, schools and surrounding areas were conducted this month.
Wang Keju contributed to this story.