In 2011, we saw many migrant schools closed down, and many children facing a life without education. We have never forgotten the children who left those classrooms, and as the New Year approaches, we wanted to ask: What happened to the students?
Since June, Beijing has closed down around 30 migrant schools, impacting some 30,000 students. Under the city's plan, 114 migrant schools without licenses will be torn down, but there's no schedule and no knowing when.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education claimed in August that they would "not lose students during the integration of urban and rural areas, and will make sure all students enjoy their right to compulsory education."
It's certainly not the case that the migrants who come to Beijing every year don't want a decent education for their offspring.
"Migrant workers realize that only education can change the destiny of their children," Zhang Zhiqiang, founder of the website Migrant Worker's Friend told the Global Times.
To Zhang's knowledge, one third of the students have continued their studies in public schools, for which migrant families pay 350-500 yuan ($55-79) fees per semester.
One third, most of which are pupils above grade four at primary school, have been sent back to their hometowns. "Students at their age are considered old enough to live independently, and receive an education at home," Zhang explained.
The remaining students moved to other migrant schools. "Their parents are usually those who have worked in Beijing for over 10 years, and are familiar with the city," Zhang added.
Zhang also raised another issue. "Some students, who moved to the public schools decided to leave, feeling discriminated against by their city-born peers."
He added that, though the government plans to integrate urban and rural areas, they should help the city to embrace migrant workers, who have made a great contribution to the city's prosperity.
A child sits in a classroom at Beijing Xinxiwang Experimental School in Haidian district August 15. Ten classrooms have been demolished. Photo: CFP