Why There Are Private Migrant Children Schools

Written by Zhao Fei, translated by Xiaomei Li

Since 2002, the city of Beijing has introduced a total of 11 policies for the purpose of providing free school educations to young children of migrant workers. To achieve such goal, the city’s financial department has put down nearly 500 million yuan since 2003. The plan is to send the vast majority of the city’s migrant children to public schools by year 2012. However, many factors --- among them the lack of overall resources; immature financing; educational resources restructuring --- have put limits to achieving this goal. Some children are still unable to receive public school educations. We would like to argue the rationalities of self-funded migrant children schools based on the following reasons:

1. Less Cost for Schooling

According to our analysis, the cost for attending a self-funded migrant children school is about 1000yuan per semester. That includes tuitions, books, insurances, lunches, and activity fees. It is about 50% less of what it would cost for attending a public elementary school. In addition, because self-funded schools are normally located close to where the students live, students can go home for lunches, resulting a further 30% saving. For a publicly held school, however, the fees typically include 750yuan for lunches, 120yuan for uniforms, 1500yuan for group activities, etc., with a total over 2000yuan per semester. Despite there is no tuition required for the public schools, the various high fees often stop the low income migrant families sending their kids to those schools.

2. Lower School Entrance Barriers

As clearly stated in Beijing Government’s <Policy Statements>, the children of migrant workers who come to work in Beijing area must live with their parents more than 6 months in order to qualify for public schools. Children who just come to the city can’t qualify for immediate schooling. So if these children don’t attend to self-funded migrant children schools, they are forced to wait for half-year without any schooling. Often times some children move place to place with their parents, and attend schools here and there. This rapid migrant pattern makes it impossible for those children to attend public schools.

3. Geographic Advantage

Most of Beijing’s currently available free-education spots are located in far-away schools that have no school bus systems. But the majority of migrant children live in the joint of city suburb areas, where public educational resources are scarce. The city’s central or suburb areas are too far from the living quarters of these children, and the daily commutes are too difficult. Limited by this unreasonable public education spread, many migrant workers are forced to send their kids to self-funded migrant children schools, which are always nearby and available.