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Country Kids Love the City Lights
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Children from the Chinese countryside who moved with their parents to the capital want to stay in Beijing when they grow up, even if they often have to live in cramped conditions and attend shabby schools, according to a recent survey.


The survey submitted by an assistant researcher with the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences found that 92.9 percent of the children of migrant rural workers are fascinated by the dazzling life of the big city, and want to stay in Beijing when they grow up.


They adapt more easily to city life and have much higher expectations of it than their parents, the survey said.


To fulfill their goals, 94.7 percent of the surveyed children hope to get a college degree and 28 percent long for postgraduate education, it said.


They consider that education is their best chance of becoming urbanites.


Most of them dream about having a high social status and stable jobs. Teacher, scientist, policeman and doctor are the most sought after careers, the survey said.


But real life is much harsher. The survey showed that 77.1 percent of the children live in ramshackle, temporary houses.


About 9.3 percent of the surveyed children live in basements and 3.8 percent in sheds.


Researchers conducting the survey found that most of them don't have anywhere to do their school assignments. They just lay a piece of wood on the bed to turn it into a desk or write on the dinner table.


Earlier reports said that there are 370,000 such children in Beijing alone, and nearly 40 percent of them are not admitted by public schools. They have to study at schools set up by migrant workers, facilities which are usually not recognized by the state.


The city authorities ordered for the closure of 239 unlicensed schools in August, but were forced to halt the action when they ran into strong protests. The main reason given for closing the schools was a failure to meet safety standards.


According to the survey, children of migrant rural workers usually have to do household chores after school, like cooking and washing clothes, because their parents work such long hours.


They cannot attend spare-time classes to learn drawing, dancing or piano as city kids do. Nor do they have access to computers or the Internet, the survey said.


Some suffer domestic violence as their parents give vent to anger or try to relieve the pressure of work or their unhappiness about poor treatment at the hands of city residents, it said.


The survey was based on questionnaires given to 993 migrant rural women and 494 children.


(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2006)

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