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Authorities Issue New Education Policies for Children of Migrant Workers

April 2, 2013

In December 2012, authorities in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province issued new policies expanding access to education for the children of migrant workers. While these policies suggest some progress in overcoming problems of educational inequality, significant barriers remain, including limited opportunities for migrant children to take the national college entrance examination. Chinese authorities' continued implementation of the household registration system, which assigns certain social benefits and rights to Chinese citizens based on their officially registered household residence rather than their actual place of residence, has greatly contributed to educational inequality.

Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong Issue New Policies

In December 2012, authorities in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province issued new policies expanding access to education for the children of migrant workers and allowing them to take the national college entrance examination (NCEE) in these areas provided that they meet certain requirements. The schedule for implementation of the policies varies for Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong, with each locality implementing their policy in stages beginning in 2013. Announcement of the policies followed an opinion jointly issued in August 2012 by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security emphasizing educational advancement for migrant children, with a particular focus on allowing them to take educational entrance examinations in places where they reside but lack official household registration. In November 2012, during a speech given at an MOE Party Study Session, Vice Minister Du Yubo announced that advancing such policies was a high priority for the MOE ahead of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress in 2013.

Requirements for Migrants Workers and Their Children

While a majority of provincial and municipal authorities have sought to address public calls to allow the children of migrant workers to take the NCEE locally, Vice Minister Du reportedly has said that the problem of having migrant students take the NCEE in places where they reside but lack official household registration was particularly acute in Beijing and Shanghai municipalities, and Guangdong province. Although the policies issued in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong expand educational access for children of migrant workers, the threshold remains high in establishing eligibility for such children to take the NCEE in these locations. Requirements include the following:
  • Parents must have stable and legitimate residence and employment in the province for a certain number of years (specific residence and employment requirements vary by province). Parents must also have participated in the province's social security program for a certain number of years (specific social security requirements vary by province);

  • Students must have attended secondary school in the province for a certain number of years (specific education requirements vary by province);

  • Students who do not meet certain requirements (varies by province) must first take the provincial vocational school examination and complete a vocational education prior to taking the NCEE in their current province of residence; and

  • Students who do not meet these requirements are permitted to take the NCEE in their current province of residence, with the consent of the province where the student's permanent residence is registered; the province of the student's officially registered permanent residence will be responsible for the student's enrollment.
Calls for NCEE Reform

In addition to placing limitations on the right of Chinese citizens to determine their permanent place of residence, the household registration system (hukou zhidu) also restricts access to certain social benefits and rights that Chinese citizens receive based on whether they hold an urban or rural household registration (see Section II—Freedom of Residence and Movement in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2012 Annual Report). According to October 2012 reports from state-run and independent Chinese media outlets, groups of migrant parents protested over inadequate educational advancement opportunities for their children, sometimes clashing with local residents who contend that allowing migrant children to pursue education in their locality will overstretch limited resources in an already fiercely competitive education environment (21st Century Business Herald, 18 October 12; Global Times, 22 October 12, and 23 October 12). Throughout 2012, lawyers and experts petitioned central and provincial authorities over the need for NCEE reform, advocating access to equal educational opportunities and elimination of regional bias (Henan Business Daily, 16 July 12; Yanzhao Metropolis Daily, 9 October 12).

According to a September 2012 Xinhua report, China has more than 250 million urban migrant workers (Xinhua, 26 September 12). In addition, China Children and Teenagers' Fund, a government-affiliated charitable foundation, reported that in 2012 nearly 20 million rural children under the age of 14 have followed their migrant worker parents to the cities.

The Hukou System

The hukou system's discriminatory effect lies in its division of various social benefits and rights. In 2012, Chinese government officials estimated that between 200 and 250 million migrant workers living in cities are denied access to social services because they lack urban hukou status. According to an August 2012 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report, China faces significant challenges over the next 20 years in incorporating an estimated 400-500 million rural residents into urban society in part because of the uneven distribution of public services in China's cities (China News Service, 14 August 12).


Source: -See Summary (2013-03-22 / English) | Posted on: 2013-04-02  
 Link directly to this item with: http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=187583



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