Migration from rural to urban areas is a common phenomenon in China. However, when rural adults migrate to cities to work, they often leave behind young children and elderly parents. China Daily estimates there are 20 million “left-behind children” and 20 million “left-behind elderly” in China’s rural areas. Their lives and needs were the focus of a curriculum unit for third- and fourth-graders developed with support from the Rural China Education Foundation.
You can watch a video of the teaching here: http://www.youtube.com/ruralchina#p/u/2/58iTa7dZxZE.
First, teachers in two schools in Yongji, Shanxi Province selected age-appropriate books and a short film to get students thinking about this topic from various perspectives. Then the students interviewed left-behind children and elderly people in their communities about problems that they face. Around 40% of the students are left-behind children themselves. They discussed which problems they could personally work on alleviating, settling on these 3 issues: academic difficulties faced by left-behind children whose parents aren’t home to help with homework, poor personal hygiene, and the heavy workload of the elderly who must farm the land and do household chores.
Students thought about the reason for these problems and found that there is much they can do to help. They decided to form small groups in each village matching up older students with younger students to address the problems. Each group made plans, including when and where to meet, and elected a group leader to handle coordination. Based on home visits, program teachers found that students’ guardians strongly approve of this initiative. We will continue to provide updates on the innovative teaching that this program helps to develop!