China / Society

The monthly journey of a migrant student

( Updated: 2014-12-08 17:17
The monthly journey of a migrant student
Children are guided by their teachers to stand in a line walking out of the train station. [Photo by Huang Liang/Beijing Youth Daily and Asianewsphoto]

For many migrant worker families, train stations are the frequent site of tearful separations. The Beijing West Train Station, one of the busiest of its kind in China, is no exception.

The monthly goodbyes between hundreds of school children and their migrant parents are particularly heart breaking.

Migrant workers living in the Chinese capital have to juggle between their work and their families. An increasing number of workers decide to send their children to a boarding school in Hengshui, a small town 274 km from Beijing because they cannot take care of their children while working.

The children are called migrant students.

It is quite common to see a group of children in the same school uniform packing a whole train carriage. Sometimes several carriages on train Y502 or 1487 are full of migrant students, local newspaper Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.

They are on their way back to Beijing where their parents live and work for a short five-day family reunion.

Yingcai school of Hengshui, a private boarding school established in 1996 for students who can't get into public school, is ideal for migrant students.

The parents of these schoolchildren have two things in common: they are too busy to take care of their children; and they want their children to receive decent education to improve their prospects because they themselves were not highly educated.

Jiajia (not her real name), is one of the schoolchildren heading back to Beijing for a five-day reunion on Nov 30.

Jiajia's parents came to Bejing and worked here for over a decade. They live in a 15-square-meter rented room with two beds, a wardrobe, a small table and a tea table in a courtyard outside of the 4th Ring Road in the western Beijing.

"We have much bigger houses in our hometown, but I like it here," Jiajia's mother said. "It never crossed our minds to go back all these years."

Jiajia's monthly holiday was over on Dec 5. Her mother brought her to the train station with luggage and a carton of milk. There are 307 other students taking the same journey as Jiajia.

The students, their heights ranging from 1.2 meters to 1.7 meters, followed their teacher to board the train. Some younger children kept crying because they were leaving their parents behind, while the older ones were more stoic.

The parents, like Jiajia's parents, come from Handan, Henan province and are in the same boat about their children's education.

Tongtong, one of Jiajia's friends and neighbors, goes to the same school as Jiajia.

Tongtong's father, a fruit vendor in a market, replenishes his stock in the wee hours, setting up his stall at 5:00 am and returning home at about 10:00 pm.

He transferred Tongtong to the full-time boarding school in Hengshui since he has no time to take care of her.

After five and a half hours, the students arrive at their school and have 25 days of campus life to live before they next see their parents. They are required to get up at 5:50 am, jog, eat and have seven courses and two self-study sessions a day.

According to Jiajia, this is the 135th time she has parted with her mother since she started second grade in Hengshui.

Previous Page 1 2 3 4 Next Page

Hot Topics