There are three kindergartens in Huang Gang village, a poor residential area in the north of Beijing.
The Little Umbrella Kindergarten is located in a hutong and takes care of children from migrant workers who live in the village. The 300 square meter large kindergarten is, according to the teachers, positioned in the mid-range. Not as good as in the urban area, but better than average.
We talked with two teachers in this kindergarten: Mr. Gu Yunhe and Mrs. Gao Yanbo.
Little Umbrella, established 2.5 years ago, is a private kindergarten for children of parents who both work during the day. All of the parents are so called migrant workers, originating from other provinces. This means there is a high turnover as parents move between different cities for work.
The kindergarten functions more like a day care center than a school, although there is some basic education. The children learn songs, counting, Chinese language and some simple English words and sentences. The kindergarten does not keep student files.
We visited the kindergarten in February while many parents and children were still in their hometowns enjoying the yearly Spring Festival holiday with their families. At our time of visiting there were only 17 children, all in one class. The oldest kid among them is six, while the youngest is just 2. In March, when all the children have returned, the children will be divided into different classes, according to their age.
Parents don’t have to pay an extra fee to this private kindergarten for not having a Beijing residency permit (hukou). Because of the high turnover, the tuition fee is charged by month. The 200 RMB per month includes lunch, which is prepared by the teachers.
We see a little red bucket in the classroom. It’s for the young children, because they are too young to use the public toilet. Older children are accompanied by a teacher when they have to visit the public toilet (in villages like Huang Gang there are no toilets inside buildings because of a limited sewage network).
The children are wearing coats inside the classroom while an electric heating fan provides some warmth. When it gets colder, the air conditioner and coal fired stoves will be used for heating.