Rules switch to aid migrants' kids
2009-April-1 Source: China Daily Website
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The children of migrant workers who have lived in Guangdong for more than five years could soon be entitled to free education, saving parents tens of thousands of yuan in tuition fees.

A proposal by the public security bureau to revise the rules was submitted for consideration to the provincial people's congress on Monday, with a decision expected from its standing committee in a few months.

If approved, the new "manuscript of management and service regulations for migrant people" will mean those who have lived and worked in Guangdong for five years straight, and have stuck to China's family planning policy, will be able to enroll their children for the nine years of free, compulsory education offered by the province.

Those who have lived there and bought social insurance for at least seven years, as well as have a clean criminal record, will also be able to obtain permanent residency permits, the bureau said.

Wang Yongqiang has lived with his wife in Guangzhou on a temporary residence permit for the last 10 years.

He said: "I hope the new regulations are approved so my 5-year-old son, who starts primary school next year, can enjoy nine years of free education."

Currently, without permanent residency permits for the city in which they live, parents must pay tens of thousands of yuan to a public school before their child is admitted.

Also, as most schools have limited places for students, many migrants are forced to part with even more cash for private education.

However, as Guangdong has more than 30 million migrant workers, some congress deputies have raised concerns over changing the rules.

"A similar regulation was brought forward 11 years ago," explained Zhu Lieyu, a deputy and lawyer with Guoding Law, "but it was not executed well as many difficulties emerged later on."

He added that the resulting increase in students would have a massive knock-on effect on the province's financial capacity to provide quality education, while putting extra pressure on local schools.

Chen Xue, a fellow deputy, agreed and said, although the proposed changes were well intentioned, the government must carefully weigh the benefits to migrant workers against the financial costs.

Editor: Yan
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