“Little Bingjie is a typical child looked after by his grandparents all the time” explains Jessica Zhou, communication officer for Aide et Action in China. The rapid economic and social development in China leads people to spend more time working and less time taking care of their children. These children lack social skills, education, and the love and caring of a proper family.
It is important to work on avoiding stigmatization at an early age. “As Bingjie’s grandparents have lived in the village all their life and always speak the local dialect, Bingjie can’t speak Mandarine Chinese at all, and cannot speak the local dialect very clearly” said Jessica. “This created many difficulties when he started school for the first time, and sometimes it made him cry as nobody knew what he wanted to say.”
Many children who speak local dialects, like Bingjie, will struggle to get to and stay in primary school. Children’s access to education is often limited by teaching being in Mandarin. Overcoming the barrier of language is central to ensuring these children have a chance to learn and integrate in Chinese society.
First words, first chances
Bingjie entered a program for early childhood care and education supported by AEA China that has targeted 321 children since 2011 in Tiandong County, Guangxi Province. Since then, there have been new hopes for Bingjie’s future. “He has great progress in speaking Mandarin after one semester’s study in Longlou Kindergarten. He can even recite a poem clearly in Mandarin!” said Jessica Zhou.
If Bingjie continues his progress, he will be able to communicate with people from other regions in China. It will facilitate his integration and increase his opportunities to go to school as he will be able to understand teachers in Mandarin.
Through the construction and equipment of a community based child friendly center, AEA
China targets on average about 200 pre-school children each year issued from vulnerable communities, including those who do not speak the national language at home. The project also integrates resources from communities to reinforce parents and family skills in early children nursing. Parents can better understand and get directly involved in raising their young children for a healthy mind and body.