Migrant kids lose schools in city expansion

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Migrant kids lose schools in city expansion

Zhang Jie (left) and Wang Zhongya, students of a school for the children of migrant workers, are locked out of their school campus as it awaits demolition. [China Daily]

More than 4,000 children of migrant workers in Cuigezhuang town, Chaoyang district, will be stranded as five primary schools and seven kindergartens will be demolished on February 28 by the local government.

Cui Kezhong, president of Wende Primary School, told China Daily's METRO his school was supposed to open on Feb 22 after winter break, but would be postponed to March 1 or more likely, indefinitely.

He said Cuigezhuang town committee ordered him on Jan 18 to vacate the premises within three days, despite the fact that his contract lasts until 2013.

Cui's refusal was followed with the school office being broken into twice, on Feb 5 and 18. The glass in the office door was broken, a number of desks and chairs tossed outside classrooms, and all the teaching aids - including scanners and stationery - destroyed. Additionally, many student vaccine record cards went missing.

"I am very worried about the study plans of my children," he said. "Some of the lucky ones have been accepted by other schools, but the forgotten majority just wander around in the village or go back to their hometowns with their parents."

The 4,000 sq m school playground has already been covered with hundreds of steel bars that mark the start of construction on a three-story building. Since the land is being bought back by the government, every sq m of space is potential compensation for the owner. Cui rents the school and will not benefit.

Li Jie, 12, a sixth grader of the school, told METRO yesterday that he might be forced to transfer to another school for the children of migrant workers something he has done four times in the past six years.

He currently idles around the village and plays computer games, as his public school counterparts get ready for the middle school entrance exam.

"I don't like to move all the time, it is not good for my study," Li said.

Wende Primary School is not the only victim of the demolition. Cuigezhuang town government issued an announcement before Spring Festival - intended to speed up the integration of the city and five villages in the town - that all nonresidential buildings would be removed. Cui said five primary schools and seven kindergartens were the first to go in the clearance. Ten more schools for the children of migrant workers, accommodating some 10,000 students, are also on the list for demolition.

Beijing News reported that more than 30 schools for children of migrant workers in Daxing, Haidian and Chaoyang districts would be demolished after Spring Festival, affecting at least 20,000 students.

Yang Dongping, a research fellow with the Institute of Higher Education Research of Beijing Institute of Technology - an expert in the study of education fairness - told METRO that the government and educational authorities should be responsible for the children since the law entitles them to compulsory education.

An official from the Education Commission of Chaoyang District said they could have a meeting to solve the problem, Beijing Times reported.

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