Hello! 58-12 Design Lab is a non-profit research and design firm. We do things like produce advocacy journalism and create low-cost housing plans. Take a look at our work, read our blog, find out more about us, and see how you can get involved!




Beijing Migrant Schools: Project Demolition

In recent news, Chinese authorities in Beijing made a decision to close down 23 migrant schools across the capital city. This move shocked many not only because of Beijing’s vacillating stance on how to handle its ever-increasing migrant population (which now implies a tendency toward one side), but also the fact that it occurred right before the start of the new school year and affects around 14,000 children. School closures have taken place in the past, but not since 5 years ago at such a level.

Child sitting in remnants of a demolished classroom in Beijing Xinxiwang Experimental School in Haidian District (Photo Courtesy of CFP)

Beijing authorities explain their decision to shut down these schools as an initiative toward ensuring safety in these often run-down facilities. Despite this justification, one particular school’s headmaster takes a stand to make sure his students continue learning. Called the Dongba Experimental School and located in the north-eastern township of Beijing in what was once a village factory, the school’s headmaster, Yang Qin, struggles to keep his school running after its utilities have been cut off after an order to shut down the school. Using a diesel generator and water supplied by supporters of the school, this has caused much worry among many parents about the stability of the school and quality of education. Many parents, therefore, are forced to send their children back to their rural village for education (perhaps just as the government would hope); but even so, many parents cannot accompany their children because of their employment in the city. As a result, parents must rely on relatives to take care of their children as they attend schools in their hometown. Many say this separation often leads to deliquency and less motivation to stay focused on school.

Children in class at Xing Zhi Migrant School, Beijing, China
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Visiting Schools — Beijing Migrant School

Beijing has enough resources to keep more than 400,000 migrant children. Even with these expenses, around 40,000 migrant children are limited to attending unlicensed schools. This example paints a clear picture of the discrimination China’s hukou (household registration system) has on its rural migrant population. The lack of equal benefits determined by a historical label has led many to believe this is a continued means of control in a rapidly growing country with the world’s largest population, keeping urbanites in the city and the rural in the villages.

We hope through our upcoming publication that touches on the subject of migrant children education in China and specifically its most metropolitan city, Shanghai, we can help uncover more of these kinds of stories and provide a better understanding of the struggles of this often forgotten group.

Sources:

Li, Yanhui. “More Migrant Schools to Close,40,000 Affected.” Global Times. 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. <http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/671330/More-migrant-schools-to-close40000-affected.aspx>.

“School’s Out.” The Economist 3 Sept. 2011: 40. Print.