A school for the children of Beijing’s migrant workers, Dongba Experimental School (东坝实验学校) in Chaoyang district, was ordered to shut in August before the school year began, as part of the government’s effort to keep migrant workers from settling permanently in Beijing. Though the staff decided to continue holding classes despite the official pressure, the teachers could finally continue no further, and had to announce that the school would be ending classes permanently.
After attending school for two months this school year, an entire classroom of migrant children sobbed inconsolably at the news, during the end of the last class they would ever have at Dongba.
The teacher chokes back tears to tell her students:
“At first I didn’t really think that these were my English classes. Please, everyone, don’t cry…we’ve left a lot of joy inside this school, we all have strong feelings towards this school. The teachers will always be with you. When you’re studying in the future, we wish you joy, and that you grow up with happiness. Always use your laughter to study and to live, no matter where you go. You must believe in yourself, be optimistic, and work hard.”
She goes on to explain the official policies to the bewildered children, who look like they won’t properly process what happened until years from now.
It should be remembered that in China, no matter how soul-crushing and dull and repetitive a school environment might be, not having one is worse. For rural children, climbing the ranks of academic success within a flawed system is the still the best way out of life of meager earnings and few opportunities.
For an account of that struggle, we highly recommend you read ‘I fought for 18 years to have this cup of coffee with you’.