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Education reform aimed at benefiting migrants

Updated: 2011-03-08 08:25

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The children of migrant families will no longer have to go back home to take the national exams needed to give them entrance to a university if a proposed policy for Beijing and Shanghai comes into force, according to the Ministry of Education.

"We are researching the possibility of adopting such a policy, and we might gradually promote reforms in these two cities, which have large numbers in their migrant populations," Beijing News quoted the Minister of Education Yuan Guiren on Monday.

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Because the proposed reform would affect many people, it would not be easy to carry out, Yuan said. Nor would it be adopted throughout the country, since the characteristics of migrant populations vary from region to region, he said.

The Ministry of Education has heard complaints from an increasing number of migrant families that have moved to big cities, where better schools can be found, during China's recent spate of urbanization.

The proposed policy marks the first time the Ministry of Education has officially responded to a campaign in which 10 Chinese parents made a call last year for reforms in Beijing.

The campaigners wrote a series of letters lobbying the ministry and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, managing to collect signatures from 12,532 parents, of which 90 percent came from migrant workers living in Beijing.

"I have concerns about the ministry's response," Zhang Xiu, who is 28 years old and works for a Beijing-based IT company, told China Daily on Monday.

"My parents always wanted me to marry a man with a Beijing hukou (permanent residence permit) to ensure my child has opportunities to get a good education in the future," she said. "It's great to hear the news that a relevant policy is being researched, although the minister hasn't produced a promising timetable."

Others thought the proposal would have unintended consequences.

"The native test takers in Shanghai will be under greater pressure if the ministry allows the migrant population to take the national university entrance exam in Shanghai," Li Yiping, deputy secretary general of Shanghai government, was quoted by Beijing News as saying.

Still, he can understand the Ministry of Education's position.

"The quality of education and exams vary among different provinces," he said. "The current situation is unfair to the children of migrant families, who now have no right to choose where they will take their university entrance exams."

The Ministry of Education's proposal is not being embraced by people who have a Beijing residence permit.

"It'll encourage more of the people who come to Beijing and Shanghai to compete for limited educational resources," Yu Danning, a 27-year-old Beijing native, told China Daily. "And population pressures will influence housing prices, traffic and the quality of life in the city."


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