China’s left-behind children and how we help them

An endemic migration of China’s population from impoverished rural provinces to expanding urban zones, is leaving a desperate problem in its wake.

China’s 61 million ‘left-behind-children’ have fallen prey to the system of ‘hukou’, a restriction on government funding which only allows children to attend school in the area they were born. While their parents are forced to leave their rural roots and move to cities to find work – often hundreds of miles away – the vast majority have no choice but to leave their children behind, as they simply can’t afford to care for them without financial allowances. At best, children are left with usually illiterate, elderly grandparents or extended family in areas with no industry and poor agriculture, while others are abandoned and left to fend entirely for themselves. There have been many reports of tragic deaths among these children, as well as abject poverty, abuse and anti-social behavior. 70 percent of ‘left-behind-children’ have been convicted as juvenile offenders, and growing up with little or no moral guidance, the future for them is bleak.

Please watch our video to find out more about China’s left behind children and how ACTAsia’s Caring for Life Education programme is helping them.


That’s why ACTAsia’s progam Caring for Life is stepping up its influence as a valuable aid to this group of the population. Helping to shape a compassionate code of conduct for the next generation, the program is especially significant for these children, who must learn to form self-esteem, respect for others, and empathy and understanding for the natural world. The Caring for Life Humane Education program for primary schools is now in its fourth year, and in that time has expanded from a pilot scheme in two schools to a roll-out in 100 schools across ten provinces.

left behind

In Autumn 2015, ACTAsia extended Caring for Life into schools in rural provinces, including a school in Heping County, Guangdong Province where more than 78 percent of the 2,000 students are classed as ‘left-behind-children’.

The local Government in China is fully supportive of ACTAsia’s humane education program, in the knowledge that it must create a caring and supportive environment for its ‘left-behind-children’ to help them develop into useful citizens. By using real examples and role models, students learn to understand issues which affect their lives and to form moral foundations. The platform encourages children to develop an enquiring approach to life, to develop a sense of responsibility, form coping mechanisms and self-awareness. In the absence of both parents, Caring for Life is able to offer children consistency and individual emotional support, as well as its guiding principles of kindness and respect to humans, animals and the environment.

Our education program is helping some of China’s most disadvantaged children to make wise choices and find a compassionate path through life.