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Beijing to Improve School Facilities for Migrant Students

Beijing is to allocate 80 million yuan (US$10 million) to improve teaching facilities in schools for migrant children, the municipal education committee has announced.

The city has 49 private schools for migrant children approved by the local education authorities, as well as more than 100 schools established without official approval.

Most of the unapproved schools had problems, such as potential safety risks, poor hygiene and sanitation, unqualified teachers and low educational standards, said a source with the local education committee.

A survey of unapproved schools over the past two months had highlighted problems, said the source.

It was also carried out to ensure every migrant child was receiving a proper education.

Schools that failed to meet student safety standards, or where staff were unqualified or building unauthorized would be shut down, according to the local education committee.

Students from the closed schools would be transferred to public schools or approved schools for migrant children.

Migrant families could choose to attend a public school or a migrant school, and public schools were banned from imposing any extra charges, according to an official with Beijing Municipal Education Committee.

In July, the Haidian Education Commission issued a circular clamping down on 37 private schools for migrant children in the district and assigned the 15,000 affected students to nearby public schools.

"There are more than 50,000 migrant children in our district, and one-third of them are studying in private schools," said Zhu Jianxin, section chief with the Haidian Education Commission.

"A lot of those schools are poorly equipped, and accidents such as food and gas poisoning, roof collapses, fire and traffic accidents might occur at any time."

China has roughly 120 million migrant workers, with more than 2.8 million in Beijing, working the lowest-paid and riskiest jobs. The number of migrant schools has mushroomed in the capital as more children and their parents arrive in the city.

Most of the migrant schools collect cheap fees and suit the needs of low-income migrant families in the city.

Beijing has 370,000 migrant children.

The municipal government has invested 137 million yuan to improve teaching facilities in schools for migrant children in the last two years, according to the education committee.

Last year, Beijing invested 7.5 million yuan in building five schools specially for migrant children in Chaoyong, Fengtai, Changping and Daxing districts.

(Xinhua News Agency September 6, 2006)

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