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Inland left-behind children keep migrant workers home

(Xinhua)

08:42, February 24, 2012

NANNING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- As the first month of the Lunar New Year passes, the country's 200 million migrant workers each have to decide whether to return to work in the big cities for another year. As for Yang Xueqing, he has decided to return to Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, more than 2,000 kilometers away from his hometown.

But his wife, who worked beside him for three years at a Nanning factory that produces glass products, has decided to stay in their hometown in northwestern Shaanxi province. She will stay at home to take care of their 10-year-old daughter.

"We found that she was unhappy and didn't want to talk to us when we came back home to celebrate Spring Festival with her. We were worried that she may have psychological problems in the future if we didn't live with her," said Yang, who returns home only once a year to save travelling expenses.

Young rural parents have become increasingly concerned about their children. Like Yang's wife, many of her fellow villagers who used to go to other parts of the country for jobs now stay in their hometowns to look after their children.

Some 58 million children lived in rural areas with their parents out working in the cities in 2011, 28 percent of the total children living in rural communities, according to All-China Women's Federation. Most of the left-behind children live in inland provinces such as Shaanxi, Anhui, Henan, and Sichuan.

In 2007, the government rearranged the layout of rural primary and secondary schools and dismantled many of those education institutions that could not recruit enough students. Since then, many children can longer attend schools nearby while living at home looked after by grandparents. Instead they must attend boarding schools in densely populated town tens of kilometers away from home.

"Although school staff look after them in and out of class and doctors provide timely treatment when they are sick, I'm still worried that she may not be able to live on her own happily and healthily," said Yang.

He and his wife wanted to take their daughter with them to Nanning at first, but gave up the idea due to costs.

Yang earns 2,000 yuan (317.6 U.S. dollars) and spends about 200 yuan each month while his wife makes just enough to support a family of four by farming at home.

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