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Wu Kanghuan, 7, digs potatoes in a field in Putong village, Zhanjiang. In some rural areas, left-behind children become a part of the labor force, often working on family farms. [Photo/Zhanjiang Daily]
In China, Spring Festival is not only a celebration of discarding the old and bringing in the new, but also a traditional time for family reunions. However, for those left-behind children in remote areas, spending the holidays with their parents is a dream difficult to realize.
The city of Zhanjiang in South China's Guangdong province is exploring a new way to take care of left-behind children with a strategy utilizing "Internet Plus".
In recent years, more and more young parents in Zhanjiang have been forced to leave rural areas and go to big cities to look for work, leading the number of left-behind children in Zhanjiang reaching 100,000.
Those children are supposed to be the apple of their parents' eye, but 70 percent of left-behind children do not get to see their parents annually. Most of the children are left with their grandparents and face problems such as poor education and living conditions, as well as their emotional needs not being met.
A left-behind child learns computer skills at Wuhe Primary School in Potou district, Zhanjiang. [Photo/Zhanjiang Daily]
Zhanjiang municipal government has made left-behind children a priority. In 2014, Zhanjiang Women's Federation received 1 million yuan ($152,000) from the Children's Fund of China. With the money, it transformed 20 schools with high populations of left-behind children into "happy homes" and formed service teams consisting of full-time workers, professional social workers and volunteers.
The "happy homes" for left-behind children are equipped with telephones and computers. Students are able to make phone calls or video chat with their parents regularly.
In 2015, the city added five "happy homes", trying to create a healthy and harmonious social atmosphere for left-behind children.
Wuhe Primary School in Zhanjiang's Potou district is a part of the "happy homes" project. The school has 154 students with 74 of them being left-behind children. The district's women's federation recorded the living conditions, learning environment and family education of those left-behind children and made "growth files" for them.
As a special group that has resulted from the process of urbanization, left-behind children need care from families, schools and the whole society.