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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Public schooling for migrant children brings light

By Liang Yiwen (Shanghai Daily)

08:30, December 28, 2011

WU Yajing, 10, attends a free calligraphy class every week in a city art-training program that kicked off last week and is targeted at children of migrant workers, who often face financial difficulties in sending their children for art lessons.

Wu's father always wanted her to learn calligraphy but could not afford it. "My dad is so happy to see my writing improving so much," Wu said.

Shanghai became the first city on the Chinese mainland to provide free education for all school-age children of migrant workers last year. Now about 500,000 migrant workers' children receive free education in local schools.

In primary schools, non-local students in grades one and two now outnumber local children, education authorities said.

The city has invested heavily in building new schools and training more teachers to cope with increased numbers. In response to the growing number of babies, the city plans to build another 700 schools by 2015.

Moreover, the city has started a program to help the children of migrant workers learn art, benefiting hundreds of children.

Many local parents spend lavishly on piano, painting or dance lessons for their children, while migrant children have few such opportunities for financial reasons, said Li Jun, a staff member of the Shanghai Sunshine Community Youth Center, which launched the program. Wu, a Zhejiang Province native, is a typical beneficiary of the program.

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