Sixteen kilometers south to the bustling Xidan of Beijing, there is a school for migrant children along the South 5th Ring. Since its establishment, it has realized the nearly-broken study dreams of 2,000 children of migrant workers, allowing them go to a broader stage from this place.
Not long ago, a graduate of this school received an admission letter from Harvard University.
I am very happy to share with you that I am going to Harvard this autumn to pursue my Master’s Degree of International Education Policy.
Through the whole journey, I want to thank so many people who have once or always helped, encouraged and trusted me.
When I went to Dandelion in 2008, I never thought how it would change my life in the future. But for 11 years, it has been influential to me.
Because of Dandelion, I could get the chance to study at Cambridge, UWC and Luther, and met many teachers, professors, classmates and friends who deeply affected me.
I am looking forward to going back to campus in autumn! I hope to remain true to my original aspirations in the future, study hard, and try to explore new things at this new starting point!
The “Dandelion” that Duan Mengyu mentioned refers exactly to Beijing Dandelion School, which is the first and only middle school in Beijing set up for the children of migrant workers.
Let children Regain Trust
In 2005, according to a national survey that year, the gap number of school-age children in compulsory education stage reached 200,000 in Beijing alone. It was also the same year when Zheng Hong, who returned China from Harvard University, founded Dandelion School.
“We want to run this school to help the government solve problems.” said Zheng Hong, the principal of Dandelion School, recalling his original intention of founding this school.
During the time spent in Dandelion School, children of every class experience transformation. When they entered Dandelion School, their knowledge level were basically at the third or fourth grades of primary school, two to three years behind urban children. Even among hundreds of children, only a few can speak 26 English letters completely.
Taking the data of Class 2017 as an example. From the time of enrollment, none of the children passed all three subjects, including Chinese, Mathematics and English, but 67% of them passed all five subjects at the time of graduation, with the pass rate of total score up to 97%.
Besides academic study, Dandelion also pays great attention to the mental health of children. Here they can feel the warmth from all sides.
There are about 100 million migrant and leftover children in China. As Zheng Hong said, “In the future, they will be the main force in building our society, and must not be marginalized. Their future is not set.”
Social Forces Care Together
According to Principal Zheng Hong, the running mode of Dandelion School is called “Six in One”, which refers to the cooperation among students, parents, teachers, volunteers, government and donors.
As a public welfare school, Dandelion has only 7.5% of its income coming from tuitions and fees, 7.5% from the government, and the rest 85% all from social donations.
In 2014, the number of dangerous buildings on Dandelion campus transformed from old factories increased, and would be demolished under the layout of overall planning of Beijing. It was imperative to build a new school building, but the funds had become a barrier for Dandelion.
After understanding the dilemma faced by Dandelion School, China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), adhering to the corporate social responsibility, donated RMB 30 million yuan to Dandelion School as the starting fund for the new campus construction, supporting Dandelion School to solve social problems through the mode of cooperation among governments, enterprises and public welfare organizations.
Thanks to the help from more donors, Dandelion School has gradually narrowed the gap with public schools in terms of funding and operation.
Besides CMIG, there are many more social forces silently helping Dandelion School grow.
Hao Jingfang, researcher from the Development Research Center of the State Council, has been providing free summer reading camps for students with her public service team Tongxing Academy since June 2017. There are also volunteer associations in universities such as Beijing Normal University and Peking University, who also established cooperation with Dandelion School.
On the campus of Dandelion School, there is a fresco entitled the “Tree of Life”, which is inlaid on the rough campus wall, sparkling. In the fresco, clusters of flourishing flowers are blooming all over the branches. The tree is deeply rooted in the earth, and each of the colorful dandelions in various postures on the trunk is bearing its seeds, surrounded by masses of fires.
“This burning fire represents exactly the love converging from enterprises like CMIG and good-hearted people, letting our little dandelions take root, sprout, blossom, and thrive no matter where they flutter to!” Zheng Hong said.
The essence of finance is to invest capital where it is most needed. Starting from a brick, a teaching building and a school, it may be the beginning for children to change their life path.
The era of rapid development leaves us more to think about and take action. We hope that the seeds of dandelions will keep flying all along.