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Chinese Students Stand to Lose Education as Schools Disappear

Translated by Jenny Li Created: November 20, 2012 Last Updated: November 26, 2012
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June 26, 2012, migrant workers' children resting, during nap time, at an illegal migrant school which has been ordered to close in Beijing, resulting in the children having to return back home to their provinces. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

June 26, 2012, migrant workers' children resting, during nap time, at an illegal migrant school which has been ordered to close in Beijing, resulting in the children having to return back home to their provinces. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Rural schools in China have been shutting down at the alarming rate of four per hour over the last 10 years, leaving students with no alternative but to drop out.

In a country where success largely depends on education, students are doomed to fail because they no longer have a school to attend. A recent forum held in Beijing on rural education prepared by 21st Century Education Research Institute (21CEDU), and presented by its dean Yang Dongping, provided these shocking figures.

The report indicated that an average of 63 rural primary schools, 30 teaching stations, and three junior high schools disappeared per a day between 2000 and 2010.

Mainland China media reported the total number of schools that shut down or reduced over the entire 10-year period:  229,400 or 52.1 percent of rural primary schools closed; 111,000 or 60 percent of teaching stations were reduced; and 10,600 or more than 25 percent of junior high schools disappeared. As a result, more than 31.53 million rural pupils and 16.44 million junior high school students do not have a local school to go to.

The majority of these students must transfer to schools in faraway counties or towns, causing great expense and difficulty. A sample survey conducted by 21CEDU showed the average travel distance for rural pupils to be 6.7 miles, and 21.7 miles for junior high students.

Migrant workers’ children are not faring any better in the city. Not only are these children’s schools shutting down, but also many of the students are not allowed to attend school due to lack of requisite civil registration. The so-called migrant schools that opened in some cities, like Beijing and Guangzhou, were reportedly far from ideal anyway.

One school was shut down in August 2011 because local authorities refused to extend the lease. New Hope Primary School in Haidian District of Dongsheng Township faced demolition a few days before the scheduled opening, leaving 800 students without a school. Many parents wandered outside of the school in a daze looking at the ruins. One parent even laid down on the street and shouted, “We have done so much for Beijing!”

In other school closures, many people have known since mid-June that nearly 30 migrant schools in Daxing, Chaoyang, and Haidian were scheduled to be shut down, affecting 30,000 students. Principal Ms. Yang of Tuanhe Experimental School of Xihongmen Town said, “A decade-old school was shut down just like that.”

The education department claimed that these students could be sent to the six schools commissioned by the government, but parents have to pay a high tuition. In addition, these schools are mostly located in remote areas. A blogger commented on Jems.me that the government intends to control population flow by sending the migrant children back to rural areas. This massive shutting down of migrant schools in Beijing has caused tremendous concern for the migrant children, who are forced to drop out of school, wander alone on Beijing streets, or take on child labor.

To add insult to injury, Chinese authorities are preparing to aid 1,000 Hope Primary Schools in Africa over the next 10 years. This China-Africa Hope Project has received more than 33 million yuan (US$5.29 million) of funding. China Youth Development Foundation and World Eminence Chinese Business Association launched the project by visiting Tanzania on March 6, 2011, followed by Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, six countries and pilot stations.

A Mainland netizen ridiculed the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for aiding Africa and not caring about Chinese children, saying, “Perhaps only immigrants to Africa will get to enjoy the CCP’s love!”

Read the original Chinese article.

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