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Migrants urging equal exam rights for children

By Xuyang Jingjing (Global Times)

08:07, July 09, 2012

Some migrant worker parents are demanding equal access to the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, for their children, saying urban areas should open up their education resources to students without hukou, or residency registrations.

The renewed call was made after a joint proposal by the Ministry of Education and three other ministries regarding the rights of migrant children to sit the gaokao outside their place of birth.

The proposal stipulates that specific plans are to be drawn up by local authorities, which shall take into account "local industrial structure, resources and capacity" for deciding whether migrant students can sit local exams.

Uneven education resources are blamed for apparent discrepancies in higher education enrollment rates.

For example, the rate for Beijing and Jiangsu Province in 2011 was more than 80 percent while it fell to 68 percent in Gansu Province, official statistics show.

Du Yubo, a deputy minister of education, told college presidents on Thursday that the proposal has been approved by the State Council.

Education authorities should prioritize the rights of migrant children to quality education, rather than considering factors such as a city's industrial structure or resources, some migrant parents complained.

"Parents like me can hardly be satisfied," said Yi Sheng, father of a high school migrant student in Beijing on Sunday.

"The Ministry of Education should put the education of children first and foremost, not the city's industrial structure," said Yi. "Now they are leaving a lot of room for local authorities to make excuses for not giving us equal opportunities."

Students who migrate to cities with their parents have to go back to their hometown to take part in the college and high school entrance exams.

During compulsory primary and junior high school, they usually have difficulty getting enrolled in public schools without forking out expensive additional fees.

Chu Zhaohui, with China National Institute for Educational Research, said, "Competition for resources and opportunities is a real concern and requires good planning and coordination."

Urban areas should have specific plans to allow the migrant students to sit the gaokao and the authorities should also take a broader perspective to improve education fairness nationwide, said Chu.

Addressing the public call, some local education authorities have launched projects to ease the problem.

Shandong Province has announced that they will open the gaokao to all students by 2014. However, in Beijing, some parents are objecting to the idea, fearing that the students will compete for education places and other resources with local children.

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