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Make Free Migration and Educational Equality a Reality

To the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Public Security,

With the development of urbanization, widespread migration has become the norm in China. However, basic public services are still bound to the household registration system (hukou), which has caused a lot of problems for the freedom of movement.

Take education as an example. Since the college entrance examination is tied to the household registration system, migrant children receive education locally where their parents are working, but have to return to their hometown for examinations. With differing provincial standards, this puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

The good news is that since last year, many provinces have announced education reforms to allow children of migrant workers to enter high schools and take college entrance examinations locally. Other provinces are considering similar measures.

However, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - the three greatest destinations for migrant workers - have strict limitations that prevent the permanent population from enjoying equal educational service. This is because the local governments are concerned about the impact it may have on local students and the problems the cities may have in accommodating all these students. The root of these concerns derives from the uneven distribution of high-quality education resources - especially higher education resources.

In order to promote free movement, the distribution of educational resources should be based on the actual permanent population in a given area rather than the registered population. This requires the public security department create an innovative social management system.

In this year’s government work report, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao said that “we should accelerate reform of the household registration system, the social management system and related institutions” and “create an equitable institutional environment for freedom of movement and for people to live and work in contentment.”

Therefore, over the next five years, educational fairness should be improved greatly and freedom of movement will be realized gradually.

Liu Jinsong (刘金松)
Original article: [Chinese]

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