Caring For China's Rural-to-Urban Migrant Children

China
By:: 
Zhang Xintian

Eleven-year-old Haichuan lives in Liuzao county, a migrant community in Shanghai. Although he is 11, he is quite petite and looks like a five-year-old. Low on confidence because of his height, he had no friends and did not want to participate in any activity.

Not knowing how to address this problem, Haichuan’s mother sent him to the district Aflatoun Centre. The teachers in the Aflatoun Centre patiently learnt the difficulties faced by Haichuan. With the encouragement of the staff, Haichuan began to express himself through drawing. Through the financial lessons, he learnt to save money and helped out with housework. Slowly, he made new friends. After three months, everyone could see confidence emerging in Haichun. The Aflatoun Centre, run by Shanghai Better Education Development Centre, opened up a new world for him.

“Haichuan opens up more at home, sometimes he even dances and sings!” his mother said.

In China, rapid economic development has brought about huge social changes, schools and families struggle to provide the most relevant education for children. This is especially true for the rural-to-urban migrant families, where parents uproot from outlying villages to live in a new city, and work long hours to make ends meet. Their children become latch-key kids - children who go home to an empty house after school because their parents are busy working, who largely fend for themselves. 

Established six years ago, Shanghai Better Education Development Centre (known as Be Better, for short) is a social enterprise addresses this problem by providing quality education for children through community engagement and education programmes. The Aflatoun Experiential Learning Centre specially designed by Be Better provides a safe and conducive community for children to learn and explore. So far, there are seven Aflatoun Centres all over the country. In 2014 alone, 110,239 children benefitted from the programmes offered by Aflatoun Centres, just like Haichuan did. The next Aflatoun centre is planned to be launched in Suzhou next year. 

Community-based Aflatoun Centres are typically located closer to the migrant worker colonies and low-income districts. Be Better localised the international Aflatoun curriculum to empower Chinese children. The five core elements guiding Aflatoun centres are personal understanding and exploration, rights and responsibilities, savings and spending, planning and budgeting, social and financial enterprise. 

These centres provide comprehensive packages including daycare, tuition as well as financial and social education. All the activities reflect Aflatoun’s philosophy to empower children. For example, the children get rewarded in Aflatoun currency if they fulfill their goals. This currency can be used to exchange for further opportunities such as being the assistants for teachers. Aflatoun Centres also organise social activities such as visits to markets and create experiential career centres for children to explore different aspects of life in a fun and dynamic environment.

To make sure that the most needy population have access to quality education, Aflatoun Centres charge according to the affordability of respective communities.

With Aflatoun Centres, the latch-key children have a safe place they can look forward to after school and during weekends.

Suzhou director Xiyuan shared with us that the migrant families are not necessarily poor, but the parents are too busy to focus on their children. Many of children feel insecure in a new environment which manifests as poor performance academically and socially. Instead of trying to understand them, the parents typically get impatient and scold the children. As a result, the children become even less confident. This becomes a vicious cycle.

The Suzhou Aflatoun Centre will offer weekend sessions for parent-children interaction. During these sessions, the Chinese parents will have an opportunity to observe and understand their children’s needs.

Xiyuan shared with us her experience working in the migrant communities in Suzhou. “In the beginning, a parent would scold the child if they aren’t prepared in class. But slowly, they would realise that it is counterproductive. In time, they don’t argue with their children in class anymore.”

It will also offer daycare service for younger children. The Aflatoun curriculum will help the children who have been over indulged by their grandparents to become more independent and respectful. Besides, the centre will also offer creative and pertinent courses such as “self-protection” through simple games.

Shanghai Better Education Development Centre is one of 11 social enterprises to receive a DBS Foundation grant

 

阿福童商体验馆:独一无二的公民和金融教育

在快速变化的中国社会,孩子们面对全新的挑战。他们需要新的技能去适应不断变化的环境,这其中包括如何有效的交流,自我保护,和金钱观念。遗憾的是,正统教育仍然以考试为主,很少触及这些方面。家庭教育同样难以担当其责,缺少相关经验的家长们也束手无策。

高速的经济发中国社会带来巨变,如何为孩子提供与时俱进的教育,这是学校和家庭共同面对的难题。对于外来家庭的孩子来说,这个问题更加棘手。当父母在外奔波打拼的时候,挂在脖子上的钥匙成了孩子们唯一的陪伴。这些“挂钥匙儿童”只能一个人在家孤零零的等候爸爸妈妈的归来。

百特教育就是在这样的环境下诞生的社会企业。创建于六年前,百特教育希望通过和社区合作为孩子们提供最全面的教育。阿福童财商体验馆是百特教育旗下的综合教育平台,它让孩子在一个安全的环境中不断学习和探索。至今,全国已有七个阿福童体验馆。新的体验馆将于明年在苏州落户。

阿福童体验馆为孩子提供什么样的教育?我们有幸采访了百特教育中心的塞尔马,曹蕾和林夕媛,一同分享了阿福童体验馆的概况和小朋友成长的故事。最后,我们将和大家一同去探索一下即将拉开帷幕的苏州阿福童体验馆。

面对儿童教育这个挑战,百特教育通过旗下的阿福童体验馆应运而生。它们通常建立在外来人口和低收入人群聚集的区域。百特根据中国的国情,将国际阿福童教育大纲灵活运用,尝试解决现阶段教育所面对的困难。阿福童大纲有五大板块,分别是认识探索自我,权力与责任,贮蓄与消费,计划与预算,和儿童创业。阿福童体验馆通过这五大板块为不同的社区和孩子设计最符合他们需求的课程。

阿福童体验馆提供全面的服务,其中包括全托,作业辅导,公民教育和金融教育。馆内所有的活动都体现出阿福童教育的本质“我选择,我负责”。例如,如果孩子们完成了自己的计划,达到了既定的目标,就会得到虚拟阿福童币的奖励。孩子们可以利用这些币值交换新的机会,比如,做老师的小助理。体验馆还组织慈善超市和职业体验等各种新奇有益的活动,让孩子们尽情探索。

为了让最需要的孩子们有机会得到最优质的教育,阿福童体验馆根据社区的收入水平设定收费标准。

有了阿福童体验中心,“挂钥匙儿童”在放学之后终于有了一个好去处。

“阿福童教程就像变形金刚,为每个人提供他们所需要的软技能。”——苏州馆负责人夕媛

海川的故事

2014年一年间,就有110239位小朋友在阿福童体验馆中收益,这其中有一位叫做海川的小朋友。

十一岁的海川居住在上海的一个外来居民聚集的社区。他个子小小,看起来只有五六岁的样子。因为自己的身高,海川很自卑。他没有朋友,也不愿意参加集体活动。

海川的妈妈把他送到了当地的阿福童体验馆。体验馆的老师理解海川所面对的困难。老师们的鼓励让海川开始尝试用绘画表达自我。阿福童的金融课程教会海川存钱,在家的时候,他还会帮妈妈做家务。

两到三个月间,海川开始自信起来。阿福童体验馆为海川打开了新的世界。

“海川在家里更加释放,有时还跳唱起来。”——海川的妈妈

探索阿福童苏州馆

即将开幕的阿福童苏州馆将如何帮助到更多像海川一样的外来居民的孩子?我们和苏州馆的负责老师林夕媛来一探究竟。

夕媛告诉我们,外来居民家庭不一定缺钱,只是父母往往忙着工作而忽略了对孩子的教育。在新的环境里,很多初来乍到的孩子缺乏安全感,因此,他们在社交和学业方面都不出彩。很多时候,父母不但不从孩子的角度去理解问题的原因,反而没有耐心的指责孩子。这样,孩子更加缺乏信心,造成一个恶性循环。

针对这个情况,苏州阿福童馆提供亲子教程,让孩子和父母一同体验感受。在课堂上,中国家长有机会观察理解孩子真正的需求。

“刚开始的时候,家长在课堂上看到孩子不主动,往往很焦急的责备他们。逐渐的,他们就意识到这样做没有意义。现在,他们终于不在课堂上公开的和孩子争吵了。”夕媛和我们分享了她在苏州工作的经验。

除此之外,苏州馆还为更小的孩子提供全托服务。阿福童国际教程帮助那些被爷爷奶奶惯坏的小朋友们变得更加独立,同时学会尊重。这个体验馆还举行各种有新意的活动,比如在游戏中学会自我保护。

“阿福童的理念就是‘我选择,我负责’!”——苏州馆负责人夕媛

 

阿福童苏州馆将为这个社区带来怎样的改变?真叫人拭目以待呢!我们会再次造访,并且与你分享阿福童馆的最新进展。

 

 If you want to find more about socially conscious living in Asia, check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.

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