Putian is located on the coast in the southeastern province of Fujian, and is home to around 2 million people. The city has one of the fastest growing economies in the region; manufacturing, especially the production of shoes, being the mainstay. The city's ports provide a vital service for the export of goods. People living in the areas around the city also live off agriculture and fishing. Historically, Fujian was an economically underdeveloped region, and there was therefore a special need to provide support for children who had lost parental care.
Since 1999, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Putian.
Many workers move to Putian from less prosperous areas in search of jobs. But the rapid rate of industrialization and urbanization has resulted in problems relating to infrastructure, such as affordable housing. Although the government has invested in programmes to promote employment and housing across China, not everyone has benefited from the improved standards of living. For example, in 2019 less than one fifth of new undergraduates at the top-ranked Tsinghua University were from rural areas. In urban areas like Putian, many children who have moved here from other areas live in poverty. These children frequently suffer from ill health and malnutrition, and some drop out of school at an early age.
China’s labour force has the largest share of workers without a high-school diploma of any middle-income country. In China, 500 million people between the ages of 18 and 65 do not have a high school diploma. For many decades, investment in infrastructure and manufacturing was high and unskilled wages stayed low.
However, with recent changes, there is an increase in demand for workers with different skills and educational backgrounds. At the same time, young people from less advantageous backgrounds, find it increasingly hard to access quality education and better positions in the job market.