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Beijing opens up free classrooms to migrant workers' children
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17:34, July 17, 2007

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Beijing''s education authority has announced it will provide free classrooms for children of migrant workers in an apparent move to shorten the disparity between them and their city peers.

According to the Beijing Municipal Education Commission (BMEC), the city government will offer surplus classrooms to 63 registered schools for migrant children. It will also build some new classrooms for these schools.

The policy marks a departure from the last year''s effort to shut down all substandard private schools for migrant children and move the students to government-funded schools.

The former plan backfired because public schools were unable to take all the migrant children because of a lack of space, leaving some children no where to go.

The policy shift will benefit a number of but not all the migrant children as registered schools for migrant children, which will benefit from the new policy, only account for 24 percent of existing private schools that provide education for migrant children.

Up to 205 schools have not been recognized by the BMEC due to safety concerns and the poor quality of teaching.

Statistics released by the commission show that of all the 400,000-plus school-age migrant children in Beijing, 63 percent are studying at government-funded schools, 4.6 percent at private schools and 26 percent are at unregistered schools. The remaining 6.4 percent do not attend school at all.

The BMEC also said it was willing to provide financial aid to upgrade the condition of the unregistered schools and help them to meet the national standards.

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