02/09/2010, 00.00
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.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - With the Lunar New Year, Beijing and other big cities want to demolish hundreds of "abusive" schools where millions of migrants children study. These children are likely to have no where to study and will have to remain in their rural villages, entrusted to grandparents and relatives, if the government continues to "ignore" their presence in large cities.

Yuying School in the village of Shangezhuang, Chaoyang District in Beijing, is home to about 400 pupils, children of migrants, at a cost about 1,200 Yuan a year each. Migrant workers can not take up residence in Beijing, so as not to lose it in their village, which is necessary for their right to housing and agricultural land. So their children are not entitled to public education in Beijing. In the capital, as in other large cities, hundreds of schools for migrants have arisen, which provide education at a sustainable cost. But almost all these schools are "illegal", and have never been authorized public, even if they requested permits long ago.

Now Beijing wants to demolish the old settlements in the suburbs, a number of villages incorporated by the expansion of the city, and build modern suburbs.

Unofficial figures speak of about 300 similar schools in Beijing, of which only 70 are authorized. According to official statistics, about 150 million migrants have travelled to big eastern cities looking for work, leaving 58 million children at home entrusted to grandparents, relatives and neighbours. Only about 18 million children have been able to travel with their parents, or were born in cities of the east. But they are not registered as residents in Beijing and are not entitled to public education free of charge. Other areas such as Shanghai and Guangdong, are trying to integrate migrants and, among other things, allow their children access to public schools. Not so in Beijing, where the demolition order of entire neighbourhoods and dozens of schools for migrants arrived just two months after Yuan Guiren, the new Minister for Education, indicated he would wipe-out major disparities in access to 'education, especially for the great city / country divide.

The human rights activist Liu Wenhua, director of Friends of New Citizens, told the South China Morning Post that the demolition of these suburbs in Beijing and elsewhere, is not targeting the migrant families. But nobody cares about their rights. Liu notes that the municipal government estimates that in Chaoyang district about 200 thousand residents will be displaced and have to be rehoused, but nearly a million migrants who are not residents were not considered.

Yang Yuying opened a school in Shujiu in September 2002 with an initial investment of 250 thousand Yuan. Most of the parents of its 400 students work in a nearby market for used items. He had already created a school for 800 children migrants, in 1989 in the Haidian district in Beijing. Then it was demolished to create the infrastructure for the Universiade 2001.

Yang says he's bombarded with calls from parents of schoolchildren, who have finished the first semester in recent days and are wondering where they can take the second half. He says he is ready to begin again, to open a new school. But he can not do it if the government will give him any compensation and the government does not recognize payments to unauthorized schools.

Many of these children, back in the rural village for the new year, may not be able to return to Beijing without a school to go.

 

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