Building Migrant Schools in China
China’s rapid economic expansion has brought
tremendous growth and prosperity to the country, but its education
system continues to be under-funded and unequal, especially for
the estimated 100 to 150 million migrant workers and their children
coming from some of the poorest rural areas without legal permanent
residency status in the urban metro-politan areas where they end
up. Without proper residency, migrant children are either barred
from local schools or kept out by the high fees imposed on them.
Current official estimates point to a total of 1.8 million migrant
children in China between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age that
are receiving no education at all.
To address the emerging educational needs of migrant
school children, private schools have been established as an alternative.
However, many of these migrant schools are in older school buildings
that are not earthquake safe or have other structural deficiencies,
lack the needed education equipment, have under-qualified teachers,
have overcrowded classrooms, and are often too expensive for poor
According to the Ford Foundation, in 2000 there
were between 200 and 300 unlicensed schools operating in Beijing
struggling to provide services to an estimated 100,000 migrant children.
Yet, given the limitations of these institutions only 40% of these
children are currently enrolled in school. In Shanghai, there were
519 private schools for migrant students in 2001 with 120,000 enrolled
students yet there remains wide ranging inconsis-tencies in the
physical conditions of these school, their educational standards
and their cost for tuition.
Recognizing the plight of migrant school children
and the institutions serving them, in 2002 the Shanghai Municipal
Government became one of the first municipalities in China to undertake
steps to improve the conditions of migrant schools. Thanks to a
$60,000 grant from ICF to the Shanghai Teachers’ Award Foundation,
this non-profit is now working in partnership with the municipal
government to improve the standards of migrant schools in Shanghai’s
Nanhui District, an industrial zone in close proximity to the port
that is home to a growing number of migrant workers and their families.
Through the work of the Shanghai Teachers’
Award Foundation, student scholarships, teachers’ awards and
educational equipment and supplies are now being provided to 31
schools in Shanghai's Nanhui District making positive impacts to
the lives of over 15,500 migrant school children.
|LEFT TO RIGHT: Students on the playground
at a migrant school in Shanghai, China; young student working
at blackboard in a migrant school in Shanghai Nanhui District,