Migrant Students to Sit for Gaokao outside Hometowns
CRIENGLISH.com Web Editor: Yangyang
Senior high school students study in a classroom preparing for the upcoming National University Entrance Examination, known as 'Gaokao' in China, on May 7, 2012, in Weifang city, east China's Shandong province. [Photo: CFP]
China's Beijing and Shanghai cities and Guangdong Province have published plans to gradually allow migrant workers' children to enter senior high schools and sit college entrance exams locally.
Beijing will allow migrant workers' children to attend local vocational schools in 2013, while Shanghai will allow migrant children in the city to enter local senior high schools, vocational schools and sit college entrance exams locally starting in 2014.
Guangdong has asked its cities to start recruiting migrant workers' children in local senior high schools in 2013.
The new guidelines come amid heated debate about whether migrant children should be able to take Gaokao where they live, rather than where they're registered.
As such, today's key words are "migrant education."
CRI's Wei Tong has more.
"Parents of migrant students must have permanent residence, stable jobs and sustained income in places where they reside, whether in large cities or provinces. This is a precondition for their children to take the college entrance exam in these places."
Chinese Education Minister Yuan Guiren made the remarks after 13 provinces agreed to allow migrant students to take the National College Entrance Exam, or "gaokao," in their jurisdictions in 2013.
The municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai, which are home to large numbers of migrant workers, have so far failed to give their blessing to the changes.
The issue has long been a headache for the large number of rural laborers who have already settled in cities where their children are not allowed to take the gaokao if they do not have a local household registration or "hukou."
Many of these children have already spent years attending primary and secondary schools in the cities they live in.
As such, many migrant students and their parents have made strong appeals to try to ease this restriction.
Zhan Haite and her parents moved to Shanghai a decade ago, but have yet to obtain a Shanghai "hukou."
Still, Zhan says she's hopeful she'll be able to sit the 2013 gaokao in Shanghai along-side her Shanghai classmates.
"I hope Shanghai ends its strict conditions for parents. Although they come from rural areas, they work in Shanghai and have contributed to the city. Why should their children not be permitted to take the college entrance exam here like local students? It is totally unfair that it is not allowed."
However, their complaints are also raising concerns among locally-registered students and their parents in Shanghai and Beijing.
"Shanghai will become overpopulated if the restriction is eased. The city cannot accommodate too many people."
"It will not be fair for local Beijing students if migrant students are allowed to compete with them in the college entrance exam. After all, educational resources in Beijing are so limited that they cannot meet the requirements of students from all over the country."
Guo Yuanjie from the National Institute of Educational Sciences says most Chinese students would prefer to take the college entrance exam in the bigger cities.
"Economically developed regions such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have high-quality educational resources. Meanwhile, these cities have been getting more investment in education. These big cities have better teachers, better educational facilities and provide better international horizons to students. And they have lower enrollment scores for local students."
Education experts say part of the problem is the country's disorganized and often inflexible education system.
Cheng Fangping, a senior education researcher at Renmin University, is suggesting the authorities here in China may need to look abroad for help in changing the education system.
"In the United States, for example, many colleges offer short-term courses, which normally last two years. These colleges are mainly in small counties rather than in large cities. When students finish these courses, they can choose to continue their studies at a four-year university. If they have no interest in learning, they can start to work since what they have learned is closely related to the local economy and culture. When they get tired of working, they can come back to study any program that intrigues them. Meanwhile, certificates from either two-year colleges or four-year universities will be recognized by each other."
Cheng Fangping is also suggesting more of an emphasis needs to be put on vocational training programs.
"We must change people's mindset that vocational training is inferior to academic research in terms of educational qualifications. In fact, they are just two forms of education, and we cannot tell which is better or worse. In the meantime, authorities should create more job opportunities for students with hands-on skills. If students realize vocational training is as equally important as university education, they will not manage to attend universities and settle in large cities."
The researcher is also advocating more educational funding be rolled out into China's rural areas to try to narrow the gap in education standards to allow for more flexibility in the system.
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