My name is Meizi Li and my policy area of focus is the education policy in China, specifically how to provide resources to under resourced schools in rural China. As I read the articles allocated for the Stepping Stones meeting with Corrine Hua, Founding Director of the organization, I started to feel a sense of familiarity with their mission and vision. Then it hit me that this was a mission that I worked towards when I was a fellow with Teach for China. “One Day, All Children in China Will Enjoy Access to a Quality Education.” As I read more about them, I felt more drawn to their organization and what they hoped to achieve for the children of China.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of children move to cities with their migrant worker parents. Some are fortunate enough to go to regular public schools, while many of them are not lucky enough. These students end up attending government funded private and public schools that lack qualified teachers to provide them with up to par education that others in regular public schools are receiving.
Stepping Stones is a foreign Non-Governmental Organization that is registered as a domestic Chinese NGO in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Their mission is to “improve the education and general welfare of disadvantaged children in China.” A mission that I am all too familiar with. Their organization focuses on sending expats and local Chinese citizens to migrant schools and community centers located in Shanghai cities to teach English to the hundreds of thousands of children due to the lack of English teachers available. Unlike Teach for China, they are a volunteer teaching basis, where they commit to teaching once a week for at least one semester at the schools and centers. They focus solely on teaching English to the students because they believe that this is the largest differentiator between urban and rural Chinese children.
As we listened to the presentation Corrine prepared for us, it was very interesting to hear about an organization similar to Teach for China that worked in such a large and wealthy city such as Shanghai to provide quality education to all children. It made me think about all the times that I felt that I wasn’t making a difference at the school I was teaching at because at the end of the day, those children will never use English ever again. It is optimistic to hear about migrant children actually benefitting from an organization as such. What interested me the most was how they were able to register their NGO in a country such as China. She explained how they were able to register as a domestic NGO instead of a foreign NGO with the help of a township that they have been working closely with. The difficulties of registering, difficulties of hiring foreigners to be part of the staff, and their funding process. It made me realize how much more difficult my own dream of starting a nonprofit in China is, but has also given me hopes of achieving much more than I originally dreamed of.