This DukeEngage program takes students into the everyday lives and struggles of migrant workers—the millions of rural residents who have moved to China’s largest cities in the last 20 years. Often underpaid, with no health or employment benefits, and subjected to a range of discriminatory practices, China’s migrant workers have built the new global cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, among other places, and increasingly provide service labor to China’s emerging urban middle class. The children of these migrant workers are at the center of our work. Because the majority of migrant families lack the residential permit that grants access to the state education system, as well as the financial resources necessary to pay the steep tuition of private schools, more and more migrant youth now attend the “unofficial” schools that have sprung up in the last 10 years through the extraordinary efforts of Chinese and international education and social activists. Our program works with one of the more successful of these schools, the Dandelion Middle School, located in Daxing District, Beijing.
The school is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year and is one of the longest lasting migrant schools in Beijing. The summer of 2016 will be the ninth year for the DukeEngage migrant education project in Beijing.