Friday, March 2, 2012

Education inequality for migrants’ children: “This problem has taken over my life”

In China, one’s hukou, or permanent residence status, can be perceived as either a birthright, or an insurmountable obstacle.

It dictates everything from where you can live to what kind of social services you have access to. In a country whose economy is in part built on the shoulders of its more than 200 million migrant workers, many in the capital Beijing are fed up with the system they say stands in the way of their children’s education.

China’s present hukou system was officially established in 1958 as a means to control migration within the country. It requires that every person register a permanent household with the state, thereby creating a sort of internal citizenship structure. While one enjoys full “citizenship” rights wherever their hukou is registered, these rights can be limited or made all together obsolete in the event that one moves, say, for work. Even if a child is born elsewhere, their hukou is dependent on their parents’status, which can be nearly impossible to change.

Outrage over the system became apparent in Beijing last week after hundreds of migrant workers gathered outside China’s ministry of education on Thursday to demand equal education for their children. Millions of migrant workers and their families have lived there for generations. Read More