Urban public-funded schools have been asked to open to the children of migrant rural laborers working in cities, according to a recent government circular.
The circular directs education authorities in various regions to include children of migrant rural workers in their nine-year compulsory educational program and asks regular public-funded primary and middle schools in cities to accommodate such children as much as possible.
Issued by the General Office of the State Council on Sept. 17, the circular says the policy aims at facilitating the flow of surplus rural labor to cities and maintaining social stability.
As more and more surplus rural laborers flock to cities to seek jobs, education of their children has become a distinct problem. Urban public-funded schools, which account for the overwhelming majority of primary and high schools in cities, are unwilling to admit children of migrant rural laborers.
"They believe education of these children should be the responsibility of regions where they come from, and opening the gate would mean increasing the burden on their financial and educational resources," said Chang Fengyan, a university lecturer in Beijing.
Generally, these children end up in poorly managed and sometimes unlicensed private schools, on the street or the workplaces of their parents.
The issue has been heatedly discussed among the people and by the media.
"These rural laborers are here to help build the city. Solving the educational issues of their children is to help construction of the city," said Chang Fengyan.
In an advertisement broadcast on Beijing TV, scenes of migrant children idling away their time in vegetable markets, construction sites and other places that rural laborers haunt are shown. It then asks this question “The circular asks related government departments, including public security, planning, finance, personnel and social security, to take necessary measures to support the implementation of the policy.
It also calls on supporting and improving quality of private schools.
(China Daily September 29, 2003)