Since we started working in China, Free The Children has built and furnished schools to provide education for impoverished children in the rural communities where we work. In addition, with great inequality between boys’ and girls’ access to education, a focus of our work in China has been on the girl child and working with women in rural communities through our alternative income projects. By providing communities with access to these crucial initiatives, Free The Children is empowering children to become the main agents of change in their own lives.
Free The Children began working in China in 2002 following a disastrous event. While working at a factory and putting together fireworks to pay for their schooling, 38 children between the ages of eight and 11 were killed in an explosion. In response, Free The Children started implementing development and education projects in some of China’s poorest areas. Our projects are located in the rural communities across the country.
Unfortunately, the country’s education system is woefully underfunded. The shortage of schools in rural areas is a direct result. This lack of schools in rural China means that, for many rural students, the trek to class is not only long and difficult, but also incredibly dangerous.
Taking aim at the root of the problem, Free The Children is partnering with local governments to develop more schools in rural areas. Currently, rural schools trail behind urban schools in terms of priority, and therefore in funding allocation. There is, however, a growing awareness that an increased presence of schools in rural areas can go a great distance to not only alleviating overcrowding in urban schools but also reducing the number of students who must travel to urban centres for school each day.
Did You Know?
“25%”,” of China’s population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water.”
“150,000,000”,”people in China live on less than $1 a day.”
“5,000,000+”,” Chinese children who are out of school, are working in situations of child labour.”
Free The Children’s Objectives in China
- Combat child labour.
- Provide access to education for children living in impoverished rural communities.
- Build capacity among rural communities that are far removed from metropolitan centres in order to create sustainable social and economic infrastructure.
Adopt a Village at a Glance in China
- School building
- Teachers accommodations
- Outfitting classrooms with furnishings and text books
- Distribution of school uniforms
- Clean water systems
- Hand-washing stations
- Water and sanitation education
- Animal husbandry
- Alternative Income and LivelihoodHealth workshops
- Training community health workers
- Artisans training and development
Agriculture and Food Security
- Agriculture training
- Seed distribution
- Crop irrigation
- Kitchen construction
Community Case Study – Aluo
An innovative community that smiles in the face of adversity, Aluo has managed to successfully rebuild itself since a devastating earthquake. Free The Children is happy to be part of its history.In 2008, the Aluo School was in session when a high intensity earthquake struck the region. Though students managed to escape, the school buildings were significantly damaged and could not be used. Following the earthquake, Free The Children began working in Aluo. By then, students were attending a temporary school their parents had built out of mud. The school only accommodated Grades 1-3 and even so there wasn’t enough space or resources for everyone. Additionally,the rooms were dark and dirty with no electricity or heating. Students in Grade 4-6 were forced to walk through the mountains three hours every Sunday night to another village to attend school, and return on Friday after school finished for the week.
Since 2009, with the help of community volunteers, Free The Children has built a new and much larger school for students from Grades 1 to 6 (full primary school in China). Now, over 245 students (a 53 per cent increase) have enrolled and attend school every day. Community members continue to invest in their children’s education by ensuring that roads to the school are consistently in good repair after each rainy season. In addition, Free The Children has distributed uniforms, school resources and textbooks, and built a library as well as offices and accommodations for teachers.The earthquake had destroyed the school’s water source, after which girls of the household would walk about one kilometre outside the village for water. They did this twice a day, which consumed the time they would otherwise have spent studying, playing or doing other important chores. Free The Children collaborated with the government to establish a water source in Aluo. A pipe from a local spring now connects the school to clean water. Latrines have been installed directly on school grounds helping students put their sanitation training in practice.
The absence of clean water and sanitary practices meant that children consistently suffered from diarrhoea and other diseases. Free The Children was able to provide sanitation education as a first preventive course of action. A community health plan was created which involved bringing a doctor in regularly to examine students. The doctor also conducts health workshops with teachers and students. The school also has a kitchen where fresh, nutritious meals are cooked for students.
To ensure the sustainability of all these projects, the community needs to be self-sufficient. Free The Children’s alternative income and livelihood projects fill the gap. These projects in Aluo have two components. The first is an animal husbandry program, which will allow locals to breed and sell livestock. The second is a women’s craft program, which consists of a group of 20 local women working together to produce traditional local handicrafts. The success of this project will establish these women as business leaders in their community.