In partnership with the EU and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs we assist 15,000 at-risk children
The Xinjiang province in north-western China is one of the regions where poverty is most severe. Many migrate to various parts of the province to obtain seasonal employment. They earn very little, and often work in dangerous and wretched conditions. Many of them are required to help support the family, so parents would often rather have their children working than attending school. Some children hoping to migrate to improve their future prospects are trafficked to other regions, and forced to engage in criminal activities such as theft, drug trafficking and prostitution. This project, carried out in partnership with Save the Children Denmark, aims to help vulnerable children who are at risk from migration and exploitation and unlikely to receive a satisfactory education.
The approach is to teach the children the necessary life skills to enable them to avoid the pitfalls associated with their precarious lifestyle. A basic awareness of labour legislation and trafficking issues, knowledge of how to be safe and find work in a large city and an elementary understanding of their legal rights are crucial for reducing the vulnerability of their situation. These children are often unaware of the risks they face from drugs, trafficking, abuse and exploitation, and do not know how to stay out of dangerous situations or protect themselves.
Drop-out rates in these schools are very high. The reasons for this, and for low enrolment rates, are poverty, school fees and the household registration system, which limits migrants' access to social benefits, plus the low priority given to education by many parents. Children not attending school are most at risk from drug use, HIV/AIDS, prostitution and coming into conflict with the law in their continuous search for ways to make some money.
The project works with management and teachers of local schools on providing a child-friendly school environment, developing a curriculum on classroom skills, promoting the benefits of school attendance to the children and their parents, and reducing drop-out rates.
This development project, conducted in partnership with the EU and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provides assistance for 15,000 at-risk children from 6 to 18 years of age and their families, 1,500 teachers and 26 schools in Urumqi, Hotan and Yili.
The project aims to teach children life skills as the basis for a safer lifestyle and taking a more active role in their local communities. These skills cover areas such as legislation, rights, risks associated with migration, puberty, HIV/AIDS and the harm caused by taking drugs. The goal is to assist these target groups by raising their self-esteem and self-confidence and teaching them strategies for coping with stress and their vulnerable situation, and giving them an understanding of appropriate behaviour and interactions with other people and society in general.
Local government-funded facilities such as children's clubs are designed to give children and their parents a safe and friendly environment for interacting and sharing ideas and experiences. Through these clubs the children will acquire life skills and learn about other important life issues that may not have been covered by their parents or the school system.
The current school curriculum does not address the children's need for life skills and information on child welfare and protection, and the methods of instruction are not child-friendly or appropriate for their needs. Both these factors have contributed to high drop-out rates and lack of recognition of the value of education. The project works with schools to give the children relevant knowledge and skills through a child-friendly approach. There will be a strong focus on developing a school-based curriculum in life skills. The present curriculum is focused on raising the pupils' level of academic achievement and obtaining high examination marks, along with efforts to boost enrolment rates and minimise the number of drop-outs.