Int'l Children's Day Raises Concern over Vulnerable Chinese Children

As China celebrates the International Children's Day on June 1, the need to care for the vulnerable Chinese children and the challenges facing the second generation are being highlighted.
( [email protected] ) Jun 01, 2006 08:09 PM EDT

As China celebrates the International Children’s Day on June 1, the need to care for the vulnerable Chinese children and the challenges facing the second generation are being highlighted.

Amity Foundation – a Christian-based voluntary organization working closely with government-sanctioned churches in China – has drawn attention to the education for migrant workers' children in Nanjing.

With an aim to enrich the children's extra-curricular activities so as to introduce more "color" into the lives of such children, Amity held a painting and calligraphy competition last month under the title of "I describe the world in seven colors". Students were encouraged to paint or write on any subject they chose.

The works of art entered for the finals were displayed at Nanjing's Pioneer Bookstore on May 21-27 for voting from readers. An awards ceremony was held at the bookstore on May 27 and prizes were donated by the Amity Foundation.

According to Amity Foundation, the need for education for migrant workers' children has come in the recent years as millions of impoverished rural dwellers are flocking to the cities in search of work, often bringing their children with them.

Since these migrant families are not official city residents, they are not qualified to send their children to local state schools. There are currently some 2.4 - 3.6 million school-age children of migrant workers in China. In order to get their kids educated, many migrant workers have tried to set up private migrant workers' children's schools. However, these schools supported and administered by an inherently unstable "floating" population. As a result, most such schools are very poor, lacking in books, equipment, furniture, qualified teachers and resources in general.

Amity has paid great attention to the legal rights of migrant workers and also to the education of their children. Currently, it is supporting 10 schools for migrant workers' children with teaching equipment and reading materials.

Apart from these migrant worker’s children, top Chinese government officials has pledged to provide better care for the disabled youngsters and orphans on the eve of Children’s Day, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

President Hu Jintao yesterday visited Beijing Children's Welfare Institute, where he taught children to make "zongzi"- glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves for celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival.

"They are the weakest and neediest group in society," he said. "They need the most care and love."

Premier Wen Jiabao, in a letter to the China Center for the Rehabilitation of Children with Hearing Disability, has called on the whole society to show concerns over all children with disabilities, to help them enjoy a lively childhood and increase their confidence and vigor for life.

Wen has promised in his letter to build more rehabilitation centers for handicapped children, part of the Five-Year Plan recently approved by the State Council.

According to official figures, China has over 60 million handicapped people, over 10 million of them are children. China wants to provide free medical treatment to 30,000 handicapped orphans within three years, according to Xinhua’s report. The "Tomorrow Plan," funded by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, a three-year project that started in 2004, aims to give 30,000 handicapped orphans free operations. There are approximately 66,000 orphans and abandoned babies living in welfare homes nationwide. About half of them are disabled.