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Equal Opportunities for Education

Local governments should not lay down any discriminatory education regulation against migrant workers' children, says an article in China Youth Daily. An excerpt follows:

Recently, the Shenzhen municipal government announced a regulation that it would adopt a series of strict measures on the education of non-native children.

"Given the city's limited education resources, we can only provide chances for the children of those who have made outstanding contribution to our city," an official said. At a time when the country is committed to building a harmonious society and promoting social impartiality, his remarks strike a discordant note.

By saying this, the official has exposed his own misconceptions on some ideas.

The right to education is a basic privilege of all citizens. It is the basic duty of every local government to offer to every citizen an equal compulsory education opportunity, and it should not take citizens' contribution to the city as the standard to judge who has this right and who does not.

The Shenzhen municipal government is not meant to serve only the 1.16 million with hukou, or permanent residence status. And all the other 10 million people who have migrated to the city are also legal citizens who have made taxpaying contributions to it.

Thus it is unreasonable for them to be discriminated against in terms of enjoying public services.

According to the country's prevailing laws and regulations, the local governments are responsible for the education of migrant workers' children.

The country's reform of the hukou system is aimed at gradually bridging the urban-rural gap. However, the education move to be implemented by the city's education department shows its pursuit of the opposite direction.

Certainly, we fully understand the practical difficulties an ever-expanding Shenzhen faces in terms of education. To solve these, the central government and the local government should cooperate and coordinate actively and jointly to lighten the burden.

(China Daily November 29, 2005)

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