Beijing public schools will accept 20,000 more children of migrant workers this year.
The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education also said children of migrant workers who do not have permanent residence in Beijing will not have to pay more fees than students with permanent residence.
Still, many may choose to send their children to the cheaper private schools despite the fact that these schools are often not accredited.
According to the municipal government, if the increase is achieved, there will be some 200,000 children of migrant workers studying in Beijing schools by the end of the year.
That would mean that 83 per cent of school-age children of migrant workers will be attending a government-run school, said the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education on Friday.
The municipal government invested 45 million yuan (US$5.4 million) in the past three years to help migrant children receive compulsory education in Beijing.
One of them is Yang Zhaojun's seven-year-old sun.
"I wish my son could become a real urban resident, instead of being a farmer like I was before," said Yang, who runs a grocery store.
Yang said his son could receive a better education at Beijing's regular schools than unauthorized schools for migrant children or schools in his home town.
Others, however, are simply financially unable to send their children to government-owned schools.
"I can not afford it," said Deng Daoju, a 33-year-old cleaning lady in Beijing.
According to Deng, sending her son to a private school in Beijing only costs about 500 yuan (US$60) every semester.
"But the schooling fees at public schools in Beijing are much higher than that," she said.
One mother in Beijing said sending her son to a public primary school in the city's Chaoyang District costs about 80,000 yuan (US$9,660) after six years.
"It includes 20,000 yuan (US$2,400) called 'educational development dues' required by the school and 5,000 yuan (US$600) per semester of schooling fees, textbook fees and subsidiary class fees," the mother said yesterday.
The dues are compulsory for parents who send their children to schools outside their designated area. They range from thousands of yuan to tens of thousands of yuan.
In addition to her financial concerns, Deng also said that even if her son studies in a Beijing school, he would still have to go back to their hometown, where their registered residence is, to take the national university entrance examinations.
"So it seems better to let him study at cheap private schools," she said.
(China Daily July 13, 2004)