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School shortage to last over influx of migrants

(Shanghai Daily)

08:10, June 07, 2013

Shanghai will face a much longer shortage than anticipated of schools and teachers due to the huge influx of migrant workers and a relaxation of rules on the schooling of migrant families children, officials said.

The number of migrant children receiving compulsory education in Shanghai almost doubled in the past decade, said Ni Minjing, director of the basic education for the city's education commission at a seminar yesterday.

"Shanghai will face a severe shortage of educational resources for a quite long period, especially after migrant children will be admitted to local high schools, depending on the type of their residence permit," Ni said.

Shanghai saw a 10 percent increase in its migrant population six months after the state Ministry of Education asked local government last August to allow non-local children to sit college entrance exam in the city, Ni said.

New rules

Currently, migrant children can enjoy free education at local primary and middle schools. Those who wanted to pursue higher studies have had to go back to their hometowns to take the college exam.

Starting July 1, migrant workers can apply for different types of residence permit based on a point system that will decide if their children can go to a local high school and attend the college entrance exam in Shanghai.

"Migrant children can also take the city's college exam after they finish their study at senior vocational schools," Ni said. "Though the way to college is a bit curly, they still have a chance."

In 2015, there will be 574,000 preschoolers needing to attend kindergarten. If each class has 30 children, there is still a shortfall of 9,300 classes based on the current school resources, according to a survey conducted by Shanghai Normal University released at the seminar on migrant children's education.

Surveyors interviewed students, teachers and parents of some 20 primary and middle schools in seven districts, including Qingpu, Songjiang and Baoshan districts between June and December 2012.

Lu Jianfei, Party chief of Shanghai Normal University, who led the survey, said the influx of migrant families is the main reason for the increase of migrant children in Shanghai.

Future citizens

The survey showed 58.8 percent of children born in Shanghai were from migrant families. The figure was only 2.3 percent in 1990.

To meet the gap, the city's plans call for 1,042 schools to be added between 2011 and 2015 to the existing 3,700 schools that the city had before 2011.

Shanghai is also recruiting teachers for schools built for migrant children, but ensuring the quality of such a large batch of new teachers has been a concern.

The survey showed a majority of teachers only have a college degree. They are either fresh graduates who have no teaching experience or teachers who have retired or are about to retire.

"Shanghai should work on improving the quality of the education for migrant children because many of them will become the future citizens of the city," Lu said.

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