Inferno highlights migrant children's plight

08:43, January 22, 2010      

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A photo taken on January 18, 2010 shows a kindergarten in Picun village, Jinzhan township of eastern Beijing's Chaoyang district. (Legal Evening News /CFP Photo)

Two-year-old Li Zhiya, a girl from east China's Shandong province, was killed on Sunday in a fire at an illegal kindergarten in eastern Beijing's Chaoyang district.

The fate of Li Zhiya, however, reflected the plight of many other children of rural migrants, who are sent to the makeshift kindergartens that have mushroomed in suburban Beijing with the arrival of the migrants doing low-end jobs in the city.

A report by the Legal Evening News on Thursday revealed that in two villages in Chaoyang, where large numbers of migrants rent from the locals, none of the ten kindergartens were registered and all but a few of the attendees were migrant children.

Among the ten kindergartens, only one had fire extinguishers. Most of the sites were rented living quarters from local householders, and were dilapidated and deemed not fit for renovation to build fire exits.

To keep warm in the winter, the kindergartens use heating fans in the classrooms, which could be fire hazardous if knocked down.

The children sleep in small rooms crowded with double-berth beds, with little space between, making emergency evacuation almost impossible.

Yet, the migrants mostly have no choice but to send their kids to the unsafe kindergartens both for the low fees charged, usually 200-250 yuan per month, and because they have to work all day.

The teachers, mostly rural migrants themselves who are hired to look after the children, are underpaid and lack basic knowledge of teaching and safety precautions.

The privately-run kindergartens have no incentive to make improvements as they are usually left with very thin revenue by the year end after paying salaries, meals and rent, the report found out.

Source: CRI online
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