From the Netease forums comes the story of 皖怀希望小学 (Anhui Hope Elementary School), a grade school for migrant workers in Shanghai that was mysteriously vandalized and then shut down earlier this year.
The school is supposedly located in Shanghai’s Baoshan district and has been operating for over 10 years. According to the thread, it had consistently ranked highly for schools in the area and was a bright spot for migrant children, with many parents clamoring to enroll their kids there.
The events according to the original poster 金泉少侠 (Jinquan Shaoxia):
On February 3, the day before the semester was supposed to start, a group of 200 people marched straight into the school and began smashing and looting the building. At this point, the once serene school became a cacophonous mess – wrecking sounds, people shouting orders, parents yelling, several who had come to sign up their children protesting, and other noises that shouldn’t be heard on a campus.
The people came with a clear purpose – first they destroyed all the boards(?), and then wrecked the gates, and then smashed windows and doors. They were very arrogant, even tearing down the big characters decorating the gates and putting holes in any wall that had been painted with words. The school publicity board was also looted. A group of people went to the office and grabbed all the documents, office supplies, new sets of textbooks and destroyed it all. They then moved out all the office chairs, desks, teaching equipment, television sets and drinking fountains, loaded it up on trucks and shipped them away.
To prevent their scandalous behavior from being leaked out, the group put a blockade on the road in front of the school. No one was allowed to take pictures. Two teachers had their cameras forcibly taken from them. One teacher who lived close by tried to take pictures secretively, but could not escape the “black hand.” The thugs grabbed his camera from him, and when he tried to grab it back, they accused him of causing trouble and shipped him off to the local police station…”
Another forum member, called heiya_ya, added details soon after:
I am a worker who sent my children to this school… the vandalism on the school was enacted by the head of Baoshan district so that we would have no choice but to send our children to its competitor, Luoxi private primary school.
The kids aren’t happy because 1) The administrator of Luoxi is a beautiful woman who has a good relationship with the head officials. But she herself has only completed elementary school and doesn’t understand how to teach. 2) The classes contain sometimes up to 70 classmates. 3)Luoxi arbitrarily collects fees and each student’s admissions go up to 1,200 yuan.
The thread included pictures of the school, both before and after the alleged destruction. Most forum members were angry and sympathetic to the migrant children, with many expressing amazement that this kind of “bullying” could have happened in Shanghai.
A search of Baidu and Google’s news portals showed that no official sources had written about Anhui Hope Elementary being shut down, though the official CCP internet complaint portal, people.com.cn, was filled with netizens calling on the government to investigate the matter.
Migrant schools have had a long history of closing suddenly in Shanghai, because of their often barely legal or completely illegal status. As an Associated Press report on a different migrant school closing described:
The dispute underscores one of the knottiest problems faced by China’s estimated 150 million migrants. While they provide the raw labor driving China’s economic dynamo, their children are effectively barred by high fees from schools in the cities to which they have moved from the countryside.
That has driven demand for migrant schools set up by private groups, which operate on the margins of the law and are frequently harassed or summarily closed by local governments. Strong demand for real estate in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities has sharpened such conflicts.