Education reform

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, October 15, 2010
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Educational equality in terms of accessibility, if not quality, remains a mirage for many children of migrant workers in China.

Beijing deserves praise for planning to remove one educational hurdle for these children. It is considering opening some of its senior high schools, the vocational schools in particular, to qualified migrant children. The city government, however, does not specify what qualifications these children should have.

Despite the unclear definitions, Beijing is moving in the right direction. The schooling of migrant workers' children is difficult as families move from the countryside to cities or from cities to cities.

Most children are denied entry to senior high schools in cities. These schools prepare the students with the final spurt for the national college entrance examinations. Without a permanent urban residence permit, the migrant students are not allowed to sit for the exams in cities. So it stands to reason that the senior high schools in cities turn the migrant children away.

The migrant population increases with economic development and it includes a considerable proportion of school-age children. This floating population is large, highly mobile and difficult to control. Educating migrant children is becoming a prominent problem.

Compulsory education in China is carried out by local governments and follows a system of top-down administration; the distribution and scale of schools are based on the distribution of permanent residents in the locality.

The large inflow of migrant children to cities exerts great pressure on local primary schools. The number of planned admissions is greatly exceeded, thus increasing the local financial burden.

While frequent and large-scale mobility is allowed, children of migrant workers are either denied admittance or asked to pay extra fees.

The central government needs to reform the educational system. Permanent urban residence permits should not be a requirement for migrant children.

To ensure equal and quality education for them, the government needs to work harder to reach out and connect with them. That is a challenge the government should not turn away from.

Education is the ticket out of the insidious cycle of poverty. An education of the highest level is not a guarantee of employment, but without education you have little chance, if at all.

Overall educational reform is to improve schooling for all the nation's children. And well-educated citizens are the builders of a promising nation.

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