Information

What?

The Dandelion School was established in August 2005. It is the first and the only middle school established specifically for children from low-income migrant families in Beijing. It is a charitable, non-profit educational institution.

Where?

Daxing District, a suburb of Beijing City (see the map above).

Details

130 million people, about one tenth of the entire Chinese population, are either migrant workers or children of migrant workers. An estimated 20% are school aged children. These children face major barriers toward receiving a quality education: poverty, an unstable life, and the current residential registration system. While migrant workers are becoming indispensable in urban development, their children are facing the threat of illiteracy. Furthermore, serious social problems loom in the horizon as these migrant children grow up.

Transformed from an abandoned factory, the Dandelion School came to life as teachers, staff, volunteers, and donors converted 3.2 acres of land into a thriving school.

The founders and staff at Dandelion believe that  education nurtures a child’s character, and by nurturing a child’s character the world becomes a better place.

The school is governed by a board of trustees. Financially, it is supported through tuition, government funds and contributions from individuals and organizations. The school manages its financial assets with the utmost care, professionalism and transparency. KPMG is responsible for the school’s accounting. In 2009, Dandelion School was awarded “Model Project” by the “One Foundation”, and “Outstanding Non-Governmental Middle School” by the China Teachers’ Development Foundation.

Number of volunteers required:

One or two.

Volunteer tasks:

Teaching English; enriching the children’s general curriculum experience; taking part in out-of-class activities such as sports, dance, theatre games and excursions. Assisting the Dandelion teachers in preparing materials; potential for fundraising and publicising the school.

Benefits:

Volunteers will probably be housed at or near the school, either with other volunteers or Dandelion teachers. Conditions can be quite basic (see Jessica Gordon’s diary here). Volunteers will be involved in a prize-winning and highly worthwhile project providing opportunites for some of the least privileged children in China.

Requirements:

Volunteers will need to be adaptable, felxible and have patience. Facilities at the school are quite basic. Although many of the students can read and write in English to some degree, spoken English is very challenging. Volunteers need to be pysically fit, healthy and willing to share accommodation.

Volunteers will be responsible for the cost of travel to/from Beijing, visas, travel and health insurance and personal expenses.

Minimum length of stay:

Ideally, a school year. If this is not possible, a term’s stay is acceptable. Terms run from approximately late August to December and from January to June each year.

Current volunteers?

None from UWCs, as this is a new addition to the UWCRCN Volunteer Programme.

Former volunteers?

See above.

Website:

http://www.dandelionschool.org/a/ENGLISH/general/list_97_1.html