Mask of China: Xinzhi New Citizen School

Over the Christmas holidays, I accompanied some members of the Chinese media and Chinese NGO representatives on a visit to a school specifically for migrant workers in the outskirts of Beijing.

With the massive numbers of rural migrants flooding Chinese cities in search of work, many of the their children do not have access to an education in their new city because their parents do not have residency permits that would allow them access to key social welfare services. The local government pretty much ignores their plight.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of schools like Beijing Daxing District Xinzhi New Citizen School that are established and funded solely by charities and NGOs to help this group of forsaken children.

Click on an image for a larger view:

{gallery}MaskofChina/JAN72008{/gallery} A primary school boy walks down the art display alley where patriotic paintings and drawings from classmates are displayed. Many of the illustrations are related to Hong Kong's return to China as well as the Olympics. The boy is wearing no less than five layers of oversized clothing to keep warm as the school is unheated. The school spokeswoman fields questions from Chinese media and NGO visitors. Lacking classroom space, each class rotates into the hallway for a study period with their teacher. The unheated hallways and classrooms are as cold as the outdoors, -5 celcius the day I visited. However, this didn't appear to dampen the students' discipline. Students do English exercises in the hallway of their school. This was the best behaved boy in class so he was rewarded by being the first to be served lunch. He definitely enjoyed his stewed tofu, rice and Chinese cabbage. A girl waits at the school gates for her mother to deliver her hot lunch. A child of a migrant worker awaits lunch to be served at his school. Mischievous boys wait for their teacher to mete out their punishment.