In China, rules are in place that require a visa to move from one province (like a state) to another. If a family moves without this visa to find work, say from a farming community to the growing city of Shanghai, they become illegal immigrants and thus are not able to enroll their children in state supported Chinese schools.
Rather than see these children grow up uneducated, a dedicated group of teachers are working with these children under very basic circumstances to teach them basic skills. At the migrant school by the Pu Dong campus of Shanghai American School, students attend classrooms such as the one pictured. There are 50 students to a classroom, including pre-school. They students sit at their little tables and learn most of their lessons orally by recitation. The fifth graders and third graders are learning English along with their lessons and every year each class memorizes a number of classic Chinese poems. The pre-school students were in a class with not a single toy, they too were seated at tables. But, I noticed on the board that they were learning their math facts — 5-2=3. Oral lessons.
Outside the school is state of the art playground equipment donated by SAS which has been working to help their meger circumstances. Everyone at the migrant school was anxious for me to know that theirs is not a typical Chinese school.
By the way, the reason these kids are all bundled up is not because they are ready for recess. This school has no heat. It was in the low forties the day we visited, note the rosy cheeks.