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Beijing to Build Schools for Migrant Workers' Children

Beijing plans to build five to ten schools next year for the children of the city's migrant workers, according to Beijing Education Bureau.

These schools, with lower tuition fees, will be built on the borders of urban Beijing -- a region that is home to the majority of the migrant population but has few public schools, said the bureau.

Officials from the bureau said the funds from the government budget -- 6.8 million yuan (US$819,277) -- have already been allocated.

Besides building the new schools, the city government will also use the money to improve the facilities of the existing 299 schools for children from migrant families. Most of them fail to receive government approval, largely due to safety concerns.

The government has only granted 23 approvals at present and the number will increase to 43 by the end of this year.

Beijing has 235,000 children of migrant workers and about ten percent cannot attend public school, either because it is too expensive or because it is too far from where they live.

Public schools in the city are urged to enroll more children from migrant families, who were required to pay higher tuition fees for public school education in past years. The additional fees were a result of the negative impact of the country's decades-old household registration system.

As the system has eased in recent years, children from migrant families do need not pay higher fees now but continue to face difficulties in public schools.

Two large Chinese cities--Wuxi in east China and Shijiazhuang in north China--have set up a system this year to keep track of the children of migrant workers in the city.

The system used a database to register every migrant child under the age of 16 in a bid to ensure they get proper education and sufficient health care.

(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2004)

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