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IQ tests for migrant workers' kids draw flak

(Shanghai Daily)

16:26, September 07, 2012

A primary school in central China is at the center of a public furore over alleged discrimination for forcing some migrant workers' children to undergo intelligence tests despite a ban on academic-related interviews to ensure fair enrollment in the free nine-year compulsory education.

The school in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, is said to have ordered migrant workers to put their children through an IQ test if they came up short in the interviews.

Most destitute children hardly have access to pre-schooling and thus get the short end of the stick in education, but the school remained suspicious over their intellectual level, Worker's Daily reported yesterday.

"It's too hard for my son to go to an urban school," Wei Shuangheng, migrant worker from a rural area, said.

His eight-year-old boy, identified as Hang Hang, was rejected by the No. 3 Jianshe Road Primary School under the guise of "poor education background" and had to take an IQ test to confirm he was intellectually healthy as he was plagued by "what's five plus seven."

"My kid is normal. He's just nervous and shy when meeting strangers," Wei explained. Overwhelmed by his repeated appeals, Zhongyuan District education officials gave Hang Hang another chance and the little boy passed the test.

"A rural boy, who has rarely been to a kindergarten, can no way have intellectual problems since he gave the right answers to the 10 sums," Wei added.

The school's practice has irked migrant workers. They argue that it is unfair to label village kids as mentally retarded if they get trapped in simple questions which urban kids can answer because they are less-educated due to poverty.

The school refusal can leave deep scars on the psyche of both the children and their parents.

Many public schools across the nation have reported a decrease in the number of local students and many parents don't want their children to be in the same class with kids whose parents are migrants working at construction sites or wet markets.

These parents fear that migrant workers' children will cause a deterioration in the quality of education and may even spread disease to their kids because most of them have poor hygiene habits. Some rich families have turned to private schools.

To ensure fair enrollment, some cities, including Nanjing in east China's Jiangsu Province, have banned schools from conducting IQ tests for children.

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