Beijing -A devoted Chinese father who carries his disabled son 18 miles to school every day will be provided with government-funded accommodation nearby.

Yu Xukang walks the huge distance with his son, Xiao Qiang, strapped to his back in a specially constructed basket. The 40-year-old, from Fengyi township in Yibin county in southwest China’s Sichuan province - 2,000 miles west of Shanghai - refused to give up on the boy now aged 12, despite the fact that both his arms and legs are twisted and his back is hunched.

He said: ‘I know that my son is physically disabled but there is nothing wrong with his mind. However, I couldn’t find any school here with the facilities to accept him and was constantly rejected. In fact the only place where I could get a place for him was at the Fengxi Primary School in Fengyi township in Yibin county in Sichuan province - which is a five-mile walk away.’

The father was separated from the boy’s mother nine years ago when Xiao was three years old, and decided to raise him alone. He said he was determined that the boy would not suffer from being raised by a single parent and he wanted to give him the best opportunity. Because there was no school bus and no suitable public transport the father decided that the only alternative was to make sure he carried him every day to school and back.

He said: ‘I have carried him there and back now since last September, every morning I get up at 5am to prepare a lunch for him to eat and then I walk the four-and-a-half miles to the school, and then come back here so I can work to earn money. I then walk back to the school to pick up my son and bring him home.’ He said that he estimates he has walked around 1,600 miles up and down hills backwards and forwards since he started counting: ‘My son with his disabilities is not in a position to walk on his own and it also means that he can’t ride a bike. Despite being 12 he’s just 90 cm tall. But I am proud of the fact that he is already top of his class and I know he will achieve great things. My dream is that he will go to college.’

After the distance that Mr Xukang walks was revealed in local media the local government announced that they would rent a room to the dad in the near future. And in the meantime the school will be adapted so that it can also take boarding students, including Xiao, to help reduce the workload of the father.