By Liang Yiwen | 2012-12-31 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
SHANGHAI, Beijing and Guangdong Province yesterday published plans to gradually allow migrant workers' children to enter senior high schools and sit college entrance exams locally.
They are the latest in a total of 13 provinces and municipalities to formulate plans to ensure rural children who have followed their parents to cities enjoy the same education rights as their urban peers.
Beijing will allow migrant workers' children to attend local vocational schools in 2013 and allow them to be matriculated by universities after graduating from the vocational programs in 2014, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the city's education commission.
Guangdong, a manufacturing heartland in south China and a magnet for migrant workers, has asked its cities to start recruiting migrant workers' children in local senior high schools in 2013.
Shanghai took a step further, saying it will allow migrant children to enter local senior high schools, vocational schools and sit college entrance exams locally starting in 2014.
Migrant workers must have residential permits, stable jobs and incomes, and meet other local requirements.
Currently, migrant students are not allowed to take college entrance exams outside their native homes. This causes problems because different provinces and cities may have different education curriculum and entrance exams.
In addition, the university admission rate in major cities is much higher than in the rural areas, which has triggered calls for equal rights and access to education.
In recent years, China has faced mounting protests from migrant workers, whose children had to either return to the countryside for further schooling or risk dropping out if they chose to stay with their parents, Xinhua said.
Under Shanghai's rules, the children of migrant workers who meet local residence standards and have accumulated a certain number of points can take the national college entrance exam in Shanghai after finishing their high school studies.
Children of migrants who fail to get enough points can apply to local secondary and higher vocational schools. After finishing the secondary or higher vocational schools, they can move on to undergraduate programs at local universities after passing proficiency tests.
Migrants applying for a Shanghai residence permit will need to go through a grading system before they acquire legal residence. Applicants' educational background and other special skills can earn them points in the grading system.
However, Ren Yuan, a professor at Fudan University's School of Social Development and Public Policy, said: "The Shanghai rule which links up with the residence is too conservative. It fails to provide an equal opportunity for ordinary workers to move upward via education."
The migrant population in Shanghai was 9.82 million by the end of June, accounting for 40.3 percent of the city's total. More than 500,000 migrant workers' children were studying in the city by the end of last year, the Shanghai Education Commission said.
Official figures show that China has more than 250 million migrant workers living in cities.
An estimated 20 million children have migrated with their parents to the cities, with more than 10 million left behind in their hometowns.