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  • » 03/13/2006, 00.00

    CHINA

    Only NGOs take care of migrant children's education



    Teachers' passion and donations are the only hope for millions of children neglected by the public school system. Beijing's Xingzhi School shows how difficulty it is to do good for free.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Xingzhi School in south Beijing's Daxing district was founded by a non governmental organisation and is still run by it. It teaches thousands of migrant children who cannot attend public schools but it got its official operating licence from the district education department not long ago.

    Such schools have become a necessity in China, where 20 million children have moved with their parents in search for employment, because they are often discriminated by public schools which charge them higher registration fees or simply refuse them outright.

    In Beijing alone, home to nearly 300,000 migrant children, the city government admits that more than 80 per cent of migrant children fail to attend secondary school (for 13- to 18- year-olds), and 70,000 receive no schooling at all.

    Huang He, Xingzhi School's headmaster, opened his school in July 2001 (then called Pengpeng School) with 2,000 yuan of borrowed cash and 10,000 yuan in donations. His request for registration was denied and the school slapped with a closure notice.

    Over the next three years, the school consistently failed to secure a licence and was forced to move five times, as the zealous local government shut down and demolished each new site in turn.

    This is by no means a record. Another long-running migrant school, now in Haidian district, has moved 10 times since its founding in 1993.

    Only in September 2004 was Xingzhi School's application approved by the local education department.

    The school is now a quadrangle of squat brick buildings built around a former rubbish tip. Behind its walls run a fetid, rubbish-strewn river and a dusty road where farmers—some of them parents of pupils at the school—sell fruit laid out on grubby sheets.

    Yet the school has 1,200 pupils aged six to 17, from 20 provinces, with 40 to 50 students in each class. It has a library of 20,000 books, most from Mr Huang's personal collection, and a technology laboratory with 40 computers.

    The school has about 40 qualified teachers, none of them a Beijing native, who earn up to 1,500 yuan per month—less than teachers in Beijing's public schools, but more than they would earn in their home towns.

    Mr Huang estimates that 15-20 per cent of the children will only stay for a few years, moving on as their parents find work elsewhere. But most will complete their education at the school.

    Foreign individuals and organisations account for about two-thirds of Xingzhi's funding. But Mr Huang has earned nothing from his project, running up debts of 100,000 yuan and depending for his own livelihood on the salary of his wife, a psychology professor at Tsinghua University. None the less, TV and newspaper coverage have earned the school donations from listeners and readers. (PB)

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    See also

    10/01/2007 CHINA
    As the Olympics approach, no schooling for children of migrant workers
    In Shanghai, a school for migrant children is shut down and students are dumped in a building without teaching and dining facilities. The authorities turn a deaf ear to requests for an alternative location. Tens of thousands of children in Beijing and Shanghai are left without an education.

    09/02/2010 CHINA
    Schools “for migrants" demolished, children forced to leave Beijing
    Beijing and other big cities want to demolish entire neighbourhoods, to rebuild them. But in doing so they demolish the economic schools for the children of migrants, barred from public schools. Many children may not be able to return to the big cities with their parents.

    11/06/2007 CHINA
    Child labour used in factories making Olympic merchandise
    Trade union alliance slams labour practices that involve 12-year-old children working 15 hours a day for 2 yuan an hour in factories making Olympic merchandise. Working conditions are poor and pay slips are falsified. Companies deny allegations but the IOC says it will look into the matter.

    11/01/2012 CHINA
    Chinese students discover the Christian faith while studying abroad
    Many Chinese families, atheists, seek qualified schools with high moral values and family environment. Their children, while studying, find the faith. With some risk of proselytizing and "superficial" conversion.

    28/03/2007 PHILIPPINES
    School head takes 32 pupils hostage, pleas government for schools and housing
    The man, who sequestered two priests in the past, has barricaded himself with his pupils aged between three and five along with two accomplices in a bus in front of the Manila council buildings. After a day of tension, they have been all released.



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