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Schooling Policy Significant

Children of migrant workers in cities are likely to get better basic education.

A new policy worked out by the Ministry of Education holds that governments of destination cities will be responsible for the nine-year compulsory education of the children of migrant workers.

The education of these children should be included in the general social development plan of relevant cities. Local governments should channel more funds to run these schools.

The new policy is a blessing to this group of children, who have long been excluded from the official nine-year compulsory education system in cities, and whose education has been a chronic headache for their families.

Most public schools in major cities, which are already pushing full capacity, usually shut their doors to the migrants. Some who let them in charge exorbitant fees for not having permanent local residency. Their parents simply can't afford the hefty fees.

Rough statistics put the number of migrant workers at 120 million, together with whom are 7 million school-age children.

The difficulty for these children to gain access to compulsory education is not only a family issue, but a serious social problem.

The latest decision by education authorities to make local budgets tilt in favor of the education of these children was made with great vision.

The policy is long overdue. In fact, it can be interpreted as an initial response to the call by central leadership to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers in cities.

The document on the improvement of the socialist market economic system, which was adopted by the Third Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held from October 11 to 14, calls for a better environment for the transfer of rural surplus laborers to cities.

It urges local governments to grant members of the migrant population the equal right to education, employment and social insurance as enjoyed by local residents.

Local governments are expected to upgrade their management concepts and shoulder their due responsibility for the education of children of farmers-turned-workers in their cities.

(China Daily October 24, 2003)

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