This learning sequence provides students with the opportunity to examine the rapid urbanisation resulting in massive urbanisation occurring in many parts of China and the impact this has on people.
Activity 1: Rural migration and urbanisation
This activity provides students with the opportunity to investigate the rapid mass movement of rural migrants that has created huge urban centres across China. They will examine the reasons for migration and the impacts on the economy and people. The activity will conclude with student pairs presenting their information in a visual graphic to the rest of the class.
Begin this activity by finding out what students know about China's population and economic rise. Have students work in groups to explore rural migration and urbanisation to build their knowledge of the huge movement of people and displacement caused by the rapid growth of cities.
About urban growth in China
China is experiencing the largest internal migration in human history. From 1990 to 1995, 32 million rural people had migrated to urban centres. By 2000, there were 38 million rural migrants and by 2011, a total of 160 million had moved to urban areas throughout China. For instance, Shenzhen – a major city in southern China's Guangdong Province – grew from a few thousand in 1978 to 12 million in 2000. The population is estimated to be as large as 15 million by 2020.
Activity 2: Adjusting to city living
In this activity students will gather information about some of the issues faced by people who relocate to cities from farming communities. They also examine the displacement of people in cities caused by the destruction of traditional hutongs to make way for high-rise complexes. To understand how some people are affected by displacement, students will role-play a news interview with a fictitious city resident. These interviews would be enhanced if they were filmed as a news bulletin.
Why people move to cities
Rural incomes are 40 percent less than those in urban areas. Aspirations of improved opportunities for better incomes in cities is a major reason for rural migration. Since 1978, 12 percent of the rural population has moved to urban areas. In one month, farmers can receive in the city what they would receive for growing rice in Guizhou for one year.
However, rural migrants are denied the welfare rights of city dwellers and struggle to access social services and benefits like health care, education and credit. The migrants frequently face problems such as poor living conditions or an inability to assimilate resulting in loneliness. Many migrants can only afford to travel once a year the many miles back home to visit their families.
Activity 3: Finding housing solutions
In this activity students investigate the reasons there are numerous empty, costly housing developments, skyscrapers (ghost cities) and apartments that remain empty while city residents live in crowded and poor dwellings. These sprawling cities with elaborate public buildings, apartments, parks, and car parks are often in desolate and unpopulated areas. There are many developers who have plans to build more.
Students have an opportunity to find out why ghost cities are still being built. They explore the possibility of using these ghost cities to solve the acute shortage problem of accommodation for many ordinary people. They will conclude the activity by developing a presentation of their point of view using facts, images and information they have gathered.
Activity 4: Reflection
It is important that students have the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned about the massive urbanisation taking place in China and some of the ensuing problems and planning required for rural migration, unemployment and rapid urbanisation.