Testing Time for China’s Migrant Millions

Desperate migrant workers packed Beijing’s education bureau this month, demanding that their children be allowed to take the national college entrance exam (gaokao) together with their urban peers. Carol Huang at AFP News reports:

Around a third of the capital’s 20 million population are migrants, but many of their families become split by rules requiring their children to go to their “home” provinces — even if they have never lived there — sometimes for years, to study for and take the test, which varies by location.

[...] ”Either you let the country share in your education resources or you accept the reality that outsiders are stuck in your education gutter,” said Du Guowang, a 12-year Beijing resident from Inner Mongolia.

[...] But bigger cities are less willing to share residency or benefits, fearing doing so would burden their already strained resources and spur a new influx.

[...] Despite years of lobbying national and city education officials, the migrant parents in Beijing have received noncommittal answers — along with occasional warnings. Their website, where they posted their demands, stopped working recently.

Meanwhile, Chongqing has allowed migrant children to take gaokao in the city. Xinhua News Agency reports:

Chongqing is the latest metropolis to ease the household restriction on migrants attending gaokao, following Heilongjiang, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong and other provinces.

Outside the pilot regions, the exam restriction is still in place, although children of migrant workers can take the nine-year compulsory education (from elementary to high schools) without household restrictions.

[...] Wang Boqing, president of MyCOS, a Beijing-based higher education consulting and outcome evaluation company, said that the move would definitely boost equity of schooling but was more than that.

“It’s really about the rights of people. Migrant workers pay taxes and contribute to government revenues. So universities in cities where they work should be open to them, because these schools all receive funding from governments,” he said.

See also China to “Speed Up” Hukou System Reform, via CDT.