A vocational school opened in Beijing Monday, offering free practical skills training to children of migrant rural families.
The Beijing BN Vocational School, the first of its kind in the capital city, has recruited 84 children from poor rural areas who reside with their parents here, according to China Daily's Tuesday report.
The school offers free classes, textbooks, uniforms and meals in the next two years to these children who have no access to education in the city.
Majors in home/property management, plumbing/air-conditioning, and technical maintenance/electrician are available.
Cao Qian, at the age of 17, is one of the lucky students recruited by the school.
although she has to spend about two hours to and from the downtown school, changing buses twice, her heart is full of joy, because she finally got an opportunity to further her education. More importantly, the education is free.
"When my mum saw the notice in a residential area where she does some cleaning work, she could not believe her eyes," said Cao, who followed her parents to the city last September after finishing junior middle school in her hometown of Gushi County, in central China's Henan Province.
"Our monthly household income is about 600 yuan (US$74), which cannot afford the high tuition fees of urban schools," said Cao, who has been helping her parents in a paper packaging factory in recent years.
"But I want to go to school," she stressed.
However, to run a school like this is not easy. Yao Li, the school chairperson who quit her job as a general manager of a property management company, said they need at least 1 million yuan (more than US$123,000) a year, according to China Daily.
The school basically relies on donations of corporations, and it has received more than 2 million yuan (around US$247,000), said Yao, adding that the number of corporations willing to help has made her optimistic.
The chairperson pointed out that there is a shortage of skilled workers in the city.
"Urban children are not willing to take such jobs, so we open a door to children of migrant workers who want to further their education and merge into the city," said Yao.
Official figures show that there are 235,000 children of migrant workers in Beijing, and 10 percent of them have no access to education.
"We're the start, and I hope there can be more schools like this," Yao said.
The educational team is highly professional as well. They are professors from top universities such as Tsinghua, or experts in their fields.
"We all work voluntarily," said Ji Rujin, vice-director of the Institute of Real Estate at Tsinghua University, who teaches property management two hours a week.
Ji rarely teaches outside the university, but he said: "We need to so something for these children."
The school accepts 100 students every year, and they have to take selective exams in Chinese and mathematics beforehand.
The students are aged from 16-20, whose parents work in Beijing with an average monthly income of less than 300 yuan (US$37) per family member. Junior middle school qualification is also required.
The first group of the 84 students, who are from 21 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, are selected out of 150 applicants.
(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2005)