The Amity Foundation issued a report on its work in schools for the children of migrant workers in they city of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.
From 2005 to 2006, the foundation has recruited the help of college students from several higher education institutes including Nanjing University, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology and Nanjing College for Population Program Management.
Student volunteers served as instructors in subjects including math, music, physical education and art.
"When I learned that schools for the children of migrant workers were looking for volunteer teachers, I eagerly signed up," wrote a student from Nanjing in a reflection posted on Amity’s website. "When I first saw the school and its conditions I was shocked, it was even worse than I had heard. Nobody would ever guess that this was a school if it weren't for the teachers, students, classrooms and a symbolic stone tablet proclaiming this cluster of old furniture as ‘Sihai Elementary School for the Children of Migrant Workers.’"
The education of children in migrant families is often the first to be neglected due to the poverty of the parents. China’s current education system only offers state-funded schooling from the first thru ninth grade to those who attend schools connected to their residential registration. Families living outside of such designated areas must pay 1,000 to 4,000 yuan – a cost that migrant workers cannot afford.
Though some private primary schools through philanthropy work have been established, many are plagued by a lack of qualified teachers or administrators. A substantial number experience shortages in basic education material such as textbooks and desks.
The emergence of migrant workers in China has been a relatively recent phenomenon often associated with the nation’s post-modern economic boom in the last decades. Many migrants have come from rural-sectors, often seeking greater financial and economic opportunities in the cities. The majority find work in factories that often employ them on a short-time basis. The workers do not stay long in one place, moving wherever there are demands for labor. More often, workers work long hours but are paid little.
Migrant workers are often at risk of occupational hazards including work-related injuries and disease. In a Feb. 17 Chinese government Ministry of Health report, migrant workers make up 90 per cent of patients suffering from illnesses associated with the work environment. In many cases, workers do not enjoy the benefit of worker’s compensation should accidents occur.
There are currently 30 registered schools for migrant children in Nanjing. The foundation plans to support ten of these schools purchasing computers, books, sports equipment and musical instruments, and training programs for existing faculty members.