Migrant School Demolished, Parents Furious

Caixin presents a photo gallery showing the site of a school for migrant workers in Beijing, which was suddenly demolished on Monday:

Parents of migrant students were dismayed to find that over ten of the school’s buildings had been razed to the ground on August 15, only three days before the New Hope School for migrant children in northwest Beijing was set to start classes. The parents were not informed prior to the event.The local authorities demolished the school after its contracts allegedly expired. A school official said that some buildings had already been razed while the government had not yet notified them about some others. There was no time to inform parents before the destruction, the school representative said. The school has over 790 students, and parents are worried about how to keep their students in school, since enrolling at public schools is complicated, difficult, and even impossible for some parents due to stringent regulations. The New Hope School had specifically served the children of migrant laborers, who historically have not been allowed to attend schools in Beijing because it is not their official residence.

The Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin notes that many other migrant school demolitions loom, and that proposed alternatives are inaccessible and inadequate:

Around 30 private schools, set up to provide a basic education for the children of migrant workers in Beijing, have been ordered to close, leaving nearly 30,000 students with an uncertain future as the new school year begins, the Beijing News reported today.

The affected schools are all located in the outlying districts of Daxing, Chaoyang and Haidian that have been home to migrant worker families for many years, even decades, but are now under increasing pressure from property developers as the city expands ever outward.

Most of the district government closure orders issued in June cited illegal construction, illegal operation and safety concerns as the reasons for closure, although many schools had been operating technically illegally for many years without any government intervention.

For context, see Millions of Chinese rural migrants denied education for their children, from The Guardian last year:

Despite spending more than half his life in Beijing, Hu does not enjoy the same access to health, education and social services as his neighbours. And because the hukou – registration – is inherited, neither do his children.

“I wish my kids could go to a state school,” says Hu. “Parents always wish their children could receive a better education.”

The contradictions of the hukou system, designed for a 1950s planned economy, become more painful with every year of China’s development. About 140 million rural migrants are now working in the cities, where average incomes are more than three times than those of the countryside. Migrants have fuelled the country’s spectacular growth but not reaped the benefits. And once they become parents, they face an unpalatable choice.

Fifty-eight million children are left behind in the countryside by parents who hope that relatives will raise them lovingly. Another 19 million remain in the cities – where they are, in effect, second-class citizens. Both groups have poorer academic performance and more behavioural problems than their peers.

Sources:

Migrant School Demolished, Parents Furious – Caixin online
Nearly 30 migrant schools in Beijing ordered to close – China Labour Bulletin
Millions of Chinese rural migrants denied education for their children – The Guardian

August 17, 2011 12:06 AM
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Categories: Human Rights, Society