Friday, October 28, 2011

The Last Class for Migrant Workers' Children in Beijing

Students were comforting each other with hugs after they learned their school would be shut down by the Beijing Municipal authority to drive them out of the capital city.

The principle of East-Dam Experimental School in Chaoyang District was the only person who knew the school was shutting down on Oct 21, 2001. The school has resisted the pressure from government to close for months. Students, teachers and volunteering parents blocked the entrance with human shield to stop the government bulldozer and police.

The Beijing municipal government had long seen millions migrant workers a burden to the capital city. Their cheap labor is welcomed and well received, but they are not allowed to stay or bring their children. Migrant workers were told to leave their children and elders at their original residence place, not an option for many that both parents were in Beijing. Migrant workers' children were not allowed to attend public schools in Beijing. Migrant workers and individual charities set up dozens of affordable schools to provide education for these kids. Now the government wants to shut down these school to drive the kids out of the city.

After a public outcry, even from local residents for this obvious social injustice, the Beijing government promised to absorb all migrant kids into local public schools. However, it set up a bar with paperwork so high that few could qualify. For the few who actually qualify, they were plainly denied with no reason given.

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