Gordon (Guoping) Feng is a graduate student in China Studies, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington. His research interest lies in Chinese scholars and professionals having studied in North America. He holds a PhD in Comparative Education from East China Normal University, and was a lecturer of English in Shanghai University for fifteen years.
“Education for China’s Migrant and Left-behind Children: Problems, Causes and Solutions”
In the process of becoming the “world factory,” China has brought about a migrant population of 253 million, which in turn includes about 36 million migrant children and produces over 61 million children left-behind to their native rural areas. In the past decades, the education of migrant children has been a wrestling arena among migrant parents, the central government, and local governments receiving migrants. Even though they still meet various difficulties, with the 2006 Compulsory Education Law prescribing that local governments should accept migrant students into their public schools, migrant children now basically have had access to free public education (up to the end of middle school) in cities. The education for the left-behind children, though, has entered the spotlight with a series of recent tragedies (such as four siblings’ committing suicide in Guizhou, and the serial raping of left-behind children). Studies have shown that these left-behind children are often under-nutritioned, academically under-performed, and emotionally insecure.
This paper will review relevant literature on these two groups of students, and explore the root causes (with the obvious culprit being the household registration system creating the dual urban-rural identities and welfare entitlements). Innovative initiatives by various local governments and organizations in coping with the problems will also be examined, and general suggestions will be offered in the end.