As one of Stepping Stones’ main project sponsors, Target has been working with us to additionally provide volunteers from their workforce twice a year, to provide enriching activities for migrant children. On Friday 9th June, a group of 12 colleagues from Target travelled to the outskirts of Shanghai to learn more about the challenges faced by migrant children in the city and enjoy a painting activity with Chengxin Kindergarten.
The day started with long, hot journey to south-west Shanghai, to an area with a large proportion of migrant families. The Target volunteers met in the kindergarten playground, all wearing their bright red Target T-shirts, and met with the Stepping Stones staff. Everyone made their way to a meeting room and sat down for a presentation about the recent update on the educational situation of migrant children in China.
Stepping Stones presented an article originally published by Shanghai United Foundation, which shows that migrant children still face huge challenges in obtaining an education. The enrolment policy for primary schools has recently become much stricter, meaning that the number of migrant children in compulsory education has dropped dramatically. This has caused migrant schools to close due to lack of students, which exacerbates the problem. The children’s parents cannot afford to leave their low-skilled jobs in the city, meaning that children end up returning to family members in rural areas with poor educational resources, some going to boarding schools or commuting to school outside of Shanghai, and others staying on at kindergarten in the city receiving the same education for years.
The Target volunteers were very surprised by the recent changes to the enrolment policy and many said that they did not realise the situation was getting worse for many children. The presentation prompted an interesting discussion about how organisations like Stepping Stones could help the migrant children to improve their education.
With renewed motivation to give something back to the migrant children, the Target volunteers left the meeting room and were taken to a classroom full of excited children. Two volunteers were distributed to each of the little green tables, while paints, glue and paper were set out by one of Stepping Stones’ volunteer teachers. The children were gradually persuaded to sit quietly at the tables and look towards the teacher at the front of the class.
The teacher showed the children how they were going to make a picture, by dropping a marble in different colours of paint, and rolling it over their paper. The volunteers helped the children to put on plastic gloves, and then the painting began!
The volunteers had great fun helping the children to create their masterpieces, and now understand much more about the challenges these children will face.
The children enjoyed making new friends and having the chance to get creative with lots of feedback from good role models.