Scott: Today, Shelby Holliday takes us into the home of a student in China and looks at how the rise of the middleclass is affecting the country.
Shelby: Life is good for high school student Hope.
This is your house?
Hope: Yeah, two rooms.
Shelby: Two rooms!
She was born in a small, rural village in China…
Hope: This is my mother.
Shelby: …But her family recently moved to the city of Beijing so that her parents could find better jobs.
This is your room?
Hope: This is my parents’ room.
Shelby: Their apartment is cozy, just two rooms for four people and they share a kitchen and a shower with their neighbors. But it is a big step up from their old life. And they can now afford things like a TV, air conditioning, a refrigerator and even a computer…
Is this a game?
Hope: Yeah, it’s a game!
Shelby: …All things they never owned before.
Hope: My family was so poor at that time. But these days my father works so hard.
Shelby: He works hard?
Hope: Yeah. Because my father and mother are happy, so I am so happy.
Shelby: Hope’s family is part of China’s booming middleclass, a group that is making more money and buying more stuff than ever before. Thanks to China’s rapidly growing economy, middle-class families are making four times as much as they did just ten years ago.
Hope: I have more opportunities now than my parents.
Shelby: But not everyone in China is prospering. While the rich have grown richer, the poor have become poorer. And government construction has forced millions of people to move from their villages without receiving fair payment for their land.
For years, people living outside of China’s big cities have not had the same access to healthcare or education as their urban counterparts. And even though China has enjoyed tremendous growth in the past few years, about 150 million people here still live on less than one dollar a day.
There are also major inequalities due an old household registration system that split China’s population into two categories: urban and rural. It was implemented by China’s Communist leaders half a century ago as a way to maintain social control. And to this day, families like Hope’s, who move from rural villages, still face limits on where they can live, work and go to school in big cities. That is why Hope ended up in a unique program for so-called migrant students.
This is the Dandelion School?
Shelby: Run by some of Beijing’s top teachers, the Dandelion School provides kids born in rural areas with the same level of education received by their peers born in cities.
Chen Jian Fang: Our policy is to change children’s life by education. The reason teachers want to stay is that the migrant students work really hard and they have dreams to be better.
Shelby: For a small fee, students get textbooks, core classes, a dorm room and nutritious food.
The school meals help them stay happy, healthy and focused. After lunch comes dishwashing! And once students are done with their schoolwork, they are free to have fun.
You won’t see these kinds of games, dancing, or art in other Chinese schools where classes all about tests and grades. But the Dandelion School is special. By encouraging kids to pursue their passions, the Dandelion School gives students hope for the future.
Hope: When we draw, it can make us so happy.
Shelby: And does it make you dream big?
Hope: Yeah, it can help us to achieve our dreams. I think that.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.