Migrant parents keen to see new hukou reforms

BEIJING – Chen Xin has fared well as a middle school student in the capital. His grades are good and he has made many friends.

His scores belie an awkward situation, at least that’s how his parents see it: he does not have a Beijing hukou.

This year his parents will remove him from Cuiwei Middle School in Haidian district and send the 15-year-old back to their native Henan province next month. This will give him more time to get accustomed to classes in his hometown and give him a better chance of being accepted by a Beijing university, as the boy wishes.

Although hukou reforms have already opened the door to free compulsory primary education for millions of children, rules still require youngsters to sit entrance examinations for high school and college in their hometowns.

“If I don’t go back, I won’t have time to catch up with the other students,” said Chen, referring to the fact he will have to adapt to a different curriculum.

Another harsh reality is that children outside Beijing need to score higher in the entrance exam to qualify for a place in the capital’s schools.

With the latest population statistics showing a sharp rise in the number of children living in the capital without hukou, Chen’s story is far from unique.

Of the 888,000 children aged 6 to 14 in the city, 249,000 are registered in other parts of the country. This figure is up from 115,000 in 2000, according to national census data. The largest proportion, 37,000 or 15 percent, comprises 6-year-olds.

“A hukou is like a ticket to the entrance exam and we haven’t got it,” said Chen’s mother, Wang Changxia, who runs a recycling business with her husband.

“What I should do is just ask my son to go back and urge him to keep up his studies. I don’t want to affect his future.”

Wang added that eight of the 34 students in her son’s class are not registered in Beijing. Two have already gone home.

Yue Weihong, director of the city’s census office, puts the increase in children from non-hukou families down to the fact more migrant workers are opting to bring their offspring to Beijing, rather than leave them behind.

“Children used to be cared for by grandparents in hometowns, but many (parents) now feel big cities have better educational resources, such as in English training and technology,” he told China Daily.

At Huixinli Primary School in Chaoyang district, teaching director Zhang (he did not want his full name used) estimated that 70 of the 105 youngsters enrolled this year are from migrant families.

Haidian and Chaoyang are the two districts in Beijing with the largest migrant populations.

This year, one of them will be Qi Shiguang’s 6-year-old son. An electrician from Shandong province, Qi admitted he is concerned about his child’s education, but has time to “wait for some good news from the Ministry of Education about canceling the hukou restrictions”.

Source: China Daily

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