A school for ‘floating’ kids

June 2nd, 2011 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Shanghai, June 2 (IANS) A school in a Shanghai suburb evokes an unusual charm among children as its special classrooms are built inside ship containers.

These children of migrant workers, or the “floating population”, do not hold Beijing residency. It means they do not have the right to access free education at public schools, Shanghai Daily reported.

Migrant families, settled in Beijing, are now so permanent that city officials tolerate but do not certify about 260 private schools that specifically serve migrant children.

These schools are often located on marginal land earmarked for other projects, and can be subject to sudden demolition.

This was why a non-government organisation, Compassion for Migrant Children’s Education, decided on the unusual solution of shipping containers for their latest community centre, located in a grimy northeastern suburb called Heiqiao. Here it runs after-school programmes for children of migrant workers.

“In the event that we need to move because of urban development, we can just pick up these containers and move with the families,” said Yin Chia, the NGO’s Australian-Chinese manager. “These classrooms are built out of shipping containers; they are completely renovated.”

All the programmes and classes at the shipping container school are free. It has made the centre popular. The after-school programme is limited to 200 students, though anyone can use the basketball court and sports equipment.

The evening is divided into hour-long sessions, with teachers spending the first hour overseeing homework, and sports and arts classes afterwards. The project aims to fill a gap for students who would otherwise spend their evenings home alone while their parents work.

“The homework the teacher gives us to do in the evenings is quite hard,” said nine-year-old Li Jianjing. “Here we can ask the teacher if we can’t do it. That is why we come here.”

Heiqiao’s local private school has over 600 students and class sizes range from 30 to 50 pupils.

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