Zhangjiagang  :  

Help migrant workers become new citizens

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2015-11-02

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Experienced teachers have transferred from other schools, while the facilities have been upgraded. The school focuses on developing students' interest in traditional Chinese culture, sports and art.

The basketball team is one of the best and has won the city championship on several occasions. Yao Ming, the former Chinese basketball star player, wrote in the school's guest book in 2009: "Happy basketball and a happy life".

Tangshi Primary School covers an area of 49,000 square meters and is constructed according to the traditional style in the south of Jiangsu. It features white walls, black tiles, a ridged roof and small gardens. Many migrant workers mistake the school and its grounds for a park when they first visit it.

"The children from new citizen families are great assets for Tangshi. They come from different regions across China, speak different dialects, and have different cultures and experiences before coming here," said Huang Bi, headmaster of the school.

"Their cultural diversity contributes to the very fabric of our school and broadens the outlook of all our students. Some of them live in difficult conditions, but this means they are very motivated," Huang added. "The best students in music, sports and art are mostly from the migrant worker families."

The local government now ensures all children from new citizen families attend school. Many migrant workers even persuade their relatives and friends at home to move to Zhangjiagang just for the quality of education it offers.

But then, even retired new citizens benefit the local community. Zang Jiyun, 65, who used to work at a power plant in Xuzhou in the north of Jiangsu province, volunteers to teach "keep fit" boxing classes. This form of martial arts dates back 4,300 years.

"I learned it from my master Fang Dancai in my hometown. It is very good for people's health," said Zang, who has about 30 students and practices boxing every morning beside Jianghu Lake. "I hope boxing can benefit more local people."

Many migrant workers are attracted to Zhangjiagang because of the benefits on offer. "Our public policies attract new citizens," said Yang Fang, the former vice-mayor of Zhangjiagang in charge of public well-being, who is now director of the information office.

"They work in the city and should enjoy the benefits. In a rapidly aging society like China, the vitality of a city lies in its hospitality to newcomers."

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