‘I don’t care what others think’: Chinese mother who never went to school enrols in daughter’s kindergarten

Woman, 31, says she wants to learn to read and write so she can help teach her children, and maybe get a better job for herself

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 March, 2018, 7:11pm

A Chinese woman who missed out on an education as a child decided to rectify that by enrolling at kindergarten with her five-year-old daughter, according to a local media report.

Shi Xiaoqin, a 31-year-old mother of two from Guizhou province in southern China, took her place in a classroom full of new pupils last month, news portal Ynet.com reported on Thursday.

She said she was unconcerned about what others might think of a grown woman going to school.

“I don’t care what others think of me. Accompanying my daughter in class not only helps me to pick up new knowledge, but also allows me to better teach my daughter,” she said.

“Once I know how to read and write, I can help my daughter learn at home, and when she grows up, she will have the chance to get a good job.”

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Shi, who lives with her family in Songtao Miao autonomous county, said there were various reasons she did not go to school as a child, but hoped that by catching up now she too would have better job prospects.

Shi and her husband have been migrant workers in the provinces of Fujian, Hainan and Guangdong, but her inability to read has always held her back, the report said.

She said there had been occasions when her illiteracy – until recently she could not recognise even a single character – had prevented her from getting any kind of work at all.

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Her husband worked mostly on construction sites away from home, but the family – the couple also have a one-year-old daughter – was very poor, Shi said.

There is no doubting her dedication to improving her lot, however, and her teacher Chi Mingxia said she was making good progress.

“Shi Xiaoqin studies hard,” Chi was quoted as saying. “She has grasped a lot about Mandarin’s pinyin and recognises many characters. She has set a good example for the other children at our school.”

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Chi said the school had been happy to accept Shi’s application – despite her being older than her teacher – and that she had been touched by the woman’s courage.

During break times, Shi gets the chance to play games with her fellow pupils, but unlike them, she also has plenty of grown-up responsibilities, the report said.

As soon as school is over, she has to get back home to do the housework, prepare meals and take care of her daughters and their grandparents.