The Children of Migrant Workers in China

Table of Contents

  1. Part one: Those left behind
     
  2. Part two: Under the same blue sky? Rural migrant children in urban China

  3. Part three: The government's response
  4. Part four: Conclusions and recommendations


Part Three: The Government's Response

Left-behind children

Government initiatives

Migrant workers first began leaving their children behind in the care of relatives and other guardians in the mid-1980s[1]; however the issue only really came to national government attention in May 2004 when the Ministry of Education organized a seminar on left-behind children. The State Council subsequently dispatched research teams to major migrant worker exporting provinces to investigate the extent of the problem, [2][3][4]and the State Council[5] pledged to improve the education,[6] personal safety[7], and personal development[8] of left-behind children. (See: Documents issued by the central government and ministries containing measures to help left-behind children). In 2006, the Specialist Work Group on Left Behind Children (农村留守儿童专题工作组) was set up under the State Council to oversee and coordinate these efforts.[9] In 2007, the All-China-Women’s Federation, with 12 other ministries and departments, issued the Circular on Launching the National Campaign “Sharing the Blue Sky” for Left-behind and Migrant children (關于開展“共享藍天”全國關愛農村留守流動儿童大行動的通知) which aimed to help left-behind children in four key areas: 1) daily care, 2) education, 3) psychological and personal development, and 4) safety.[10] The measures were to be implemented through four distinct strategies; government initiatives, the development of legal rights, social participation and media programmes. (See: Four strategies to help left-behind children).

As part of the blue sky campaign, volunteers, usually referred to as "loving mothers" (爱心妈妈), “stand-in parents” (代理家) or “loving buddies (爱心伙伴) were recruited to provide emotional and practical support to left-behind children, in order to ease their feelings of alienation and to improve their psychological health. These volunteers were expected to visit their charges regularly, to listen to them and to provide guidance. An advertisement recruiting volunteers read:

A loving family (爱心家庭) will be matched with a left-behind child. The mother of that family will be the “loving mother” and the child of that family will be the “loving buddy”. The “loving mother” should be 50 years old or below, responsible, caring and have a good educational background. She should have the time and resources to visit the child living in rural areas. The “loving buddy” should be in primary or middle school, with a good temperament… [11]

In many places, village officials and teachers were the major source of “stand-in parents.”[12] In one town in Chongqing municipality there were more than 300 stand-in parents. About 60 percent were teachers, and about a third of them were government and Party officials.[13] Localities usually have their own selection criteria. For example, in Hangzhou, “stand-in parents” usually come from the same village as the children. In other areas, university students are recruited.[14] However, national models are now being promoted to provide guidelines to local governments. The Shantian model, based on a school in Hunan, for example, allows students to choose their own “stand-in parents” from among the teachers.[15] To facilitate parent-children communication, free telephone lines have been set up in schools or in left-behind children’s centres.[16][17], Some places also provide communication skills training.[18] Schools and village cadres are urged to closely monitor left-behind children’s family circumstances and their behaviour in order to give timely support. Left-behind children themselves have been organized into squads to support each other and do community work.[19][20], Community centres, usually referred to as left-behind children’s homes, have been set up to serve as a safe environment for children to play and study in. And out-of-school activities have been organized, especially during long vacations, to keep the children occupied.[21][22], Educated adults in the neighborhood have been recruited to supervise these children, and other private initiatives have been encouraged.[23][24][25]

According to the government, the “stand-in parent” scheme has already achieved positive results, as indicated in the following example.

During the 2006 Spring Festival, a primary school student named Xiaoqing was paired with a young female township government officer, Yangling, who showed great concern for her needs. Yangling bought her textbooks, school bags, stationery and snacks. She also visited her or let Xiaoqing stay with her. Every time they parted, she would walk Xiaoqing to the bus and phone her afterward to make sure that she arrived home safely. After Xiaoqing got Yangling as her stand-in parent, she improved noticeably in school and even received a progress award. [26]

However, it seems this case is the exception rather than the rule. Many stand-in parents enroll in the scheme simply because their government office or school has quotas to fill, and are not really qualified for the role. One stand-in parent working in a hospital said that, she, her ward matron, and the head of her department were all deputy parents. However, she said they were all very busy and could only occasionally visit their charges.[27]

A child talks with his mother via a video-telephone system in Heilongjiang. The system is jointly funded by the government and a private communication service provider.[28]

As left-behind children are more vulnerable to crime, local Public Security Bureaus have organized educational activities to strengthen social awareness of children’s rights and to enhance children’s sense of self protection.[29] They have launched “strike hard” (严打) campaigns to combat crime against left-behind children.[30] Local police also increased patrols and strengthened neighborhood-watch schemes.[31][32] In 2008, Public Security Bureaus across China launched campaigns to combat the abduction of minors. They arrested some 5,000 criminals and rescued 8,000 victims.[33] Local governments also started to include the Protection of Minors Law in their legal awareness activities. And an inspection team under the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress was set up to examine the enforcement of the Protection of Minors Law.[34]

In order to ensure schooling and better supervision for children in poor rural areas, the central government invested 900 million yuan from 2004 to 2006 in the Boarding School Development Project.[35] By 2006, about ten percent of primary school students in China’s western regions and about 40 percent of middle school students in the central and western regions had been placed in boarding schools.[36]

A boarding school dormitory in Guangxi[37]

Limitations

According to the Blue Sky circular issued by the All-China Women’s Federation, structural changes are crucial to resolving the left-behind children problem. However, to date, few structural changes have been initiated. In 2006, the Ministry of Public Security proposed relaxing the hukou system and enabling migrant workers and their children to transfer their hukous to cities,[38] yet migrant children still remain outsiders in the cities. In the same year, the Protection of Minors Law was revised to include a new article on the legal responsibility of parents. However, this clause affords little substantive protection for left-behind children. It merely states:

When parents are unable to perform their duties as guardians to their underage child because they need to work in other cities or for other reasons, they shall entrust their children to another adult who has the capacity to provide guardianship to their child on their behalf. (Article 16) [39]

Many of the initiatives the central government has taken so far rely too heavily on individual members of society and groups to provide ad hoc assistance to left-behind children, and many programmes lack resources and proper planning. The rights and duties of the “stand-in parents,” for example, have not been clearly defined. Many stand-in parents do not know whether they can be seen as guardians, or under what circumstances they can represent the interest of these children. Moreover, some biological parents have refused to pay school fees for their children because they think stand-in parents should be responsible for such expenses. Even though some stand-in parents are devoted volunteers, many lack the knowledge or experience to work with children.[40][41][42], Realizing these problems, Shiquan county in Sha’anxi province drafted two documents: the Responsibilities of “Stand-in parents (代理家长职责) and the Memorandum on the Beneficial Pairing of Stand-in parents and Left-behind Children (代理家长与留守儿童结对帮扶协议) which have now been promoted as a national model.[43]

To raise social awareness and lessen the government’s financial burden, individuals[44], NGOs[45] and businesses[46] have all been urged to fund[47] and staff left-behind children’s homes. In some areas, private funds are now the dominant source of finance.[48] The lack of government funds affects the substantiality of these programmes. For example, some telecommunication companies give telephone cards to left-behind children. However, these companies usually only sponsor such schemes for a few months to a year, with no guarantee of renewal. Furthermore, many corporate initiatives are not carefully planned. Some children do not know how to use telephone cards or find them inconvenient. Some schools installed dedicated telephone lines for children in an open area and found that few children were willing to use them because of privacy concerns. In a report submitted to the National People’s Congress in September 2008, the inspection team for the Protection of Minors Law reported that many of the activities organized for young people in rural areas were obsolete and unable to attract participants. It suggested employing qualified adults to improve the operation of left-behind children’s homes.[49]

A commentator in Science Education News pointed out the weaknesses of government programmes thus far:

Many things need to be done in order to make the stand-in parent scheme more effective. One is incentives: The education, finance, and civil affairs departments should arrange for education and management, guarantee basic funding, and monetary subsidies to teachers. Education departments at various levels should examine and monitor the scheme regularly, set up a reward mechanism and make the scheme more systematic and sustainable. Preliminary estimates for the cost of setting up left behind children squads nationwide are about 100 million yuan a year, with the stand-in parent scheme coming to 300 million yuan. However, to date, few places have raised enough money for these programmes.[50]

Similarly, according to a report in the China Youth Daily, accommodating all left-behind children in boarding schools would require about 600 billion yuan, with the cost shared by the central government, local governments and the public.[51] In reality, many local governments lack the resources to build enough boarding schools. Some are able to build new schools but they lack even basic facilities, such as heating, drinking water and bathrooms.[52][53], Many boarding schools have serious hygiene and safety issues.[54][55] In Guangxi, up to 250 schools were found to have an “extremely high risk” of water pollution, and 400 to 500 had a moderate risk.[56] A 2006 report by the Ministry of Education found that schools, particularly in rural areas were vulnerable to accidents, food poisoning and contagious diseases.[57]

At some rural schools, children suffer from malnutrition. A donor visiting a rural boarding school in Shanxi in 2008 wrote:

On the Sunday morning of 22 June, we arrived at the Gaojiata primary school…At about 8 o’clock, the sun was high and it was breakfast time for the students. Every one of the students seemed to have a surprisingly big appetite. The portions served were much bigger than the norm for urban children of the same age. But none of them was chubby. Like their parents and grandparents, these children had only two meals a day: one after the morning lesson and the other in the afternoon.

A menu was posted at the entrance of the canteen. Once every ten days, these children could have two meals of pork and one meal of pork dumplings. At other times, the staple was the “three-olds:” potatoes, rice noodles and beancurd. Many children had white fungus-like patches on their face, which, according to nutrition experts, is a symptom of malnutrition... [58]

A shortage of teachers has also marred the boarding school initiative.[59][60] The headmaster of one boarding school reported that the teachers in his school needed to teach more than 30 classes a week. They got up at six o’clock in the morning and worked until ten o’clock at night. Yet, they could only earn 600 yuan a month, and were often not paid on time. Teachers who joined the school in September 2007 only got paid at the time of the Spring Festival in February 2008.[61] Heavy workloads and low salaries have turned many teachers away, while those who stay have to take care of the emotional and physical needs of the children as well as their teaching duties. One journalist reported:

Because many children’s parents left town for work, the teachers took care of them and became their temporary parents. They not only helped the children to study, but took responsibility for their daily needs – they helped them clean themselves, mend their clothes, and made sure that they would not catch a cold... Some children did not know how to make their bed. These teachers would show them. Some students suffered from insomnia because they were home sick. Teachers would tell them bed time stories... [62]

Many boarding schools lack the facilities to meet the psychological needs of the students or even ensure their safety. There are reports that children studying at boarding schools are more likely to experience bullying. One student said: “The older students often came to our dormitory, stamping on our blankets, and jumping on our bed. If we don’t give them money, they will beat us up.”[63]

Xiaogong had been sent to this boarding school for one semester. Both of his parents were working elsewhere, and they only came home during the Spring Festival. His school did not allow the students to call their parents or leave the school (to make a phone call). He wished he could find a place to call his parents. He wished his teachers could be more caring but he dared not to tell his teachers what he thought. He said if the teachers were more caring, he could have told them more. [64]

In some regions, local government boarding school programmes have forced private schools to close down. As a result, children who used to study in private schools in their neighborhoods now have to go to boarding schools, sometimes in other villages.[65] Although the state has waived the tuition fees and textbook fees for students in compulsory education and provides subsidies for boarding costs, the costs at boarding schools are still higher than in day schools. On average a family in central and western China needs to pay 1,360 yuan annually for two children to study in boarding schools.[66] The average annual rural per capita income in 2007 was only 5,791 yuan.[67]

Juvenile delinquency, particularly among left-behind children and migrant children, has become an issue of major concern in China. As a result, while measures have been introduced to safeguard the rights and welfare of these children, many other measures have been devised, in the name of “child protection,” to control them. Many left-behind children now have official dossiers, and the after-school activities organized by left-behind children’s homes are primarily aimed at keeping these children off the street. Boarding schools often have high walls to keep their students inside and “protect” them from criminal gangs, and accidents outside. However, without adequate facilities they are like prisons. Even for schools with good facilities, the rules in boarding schools can be rigid.[68] In 2008, the report of the Protection of Minors Law inspection team focused on preventing internet addiction prevention and imparting moral education to juvenile delinquents.

A renowned Chinese sociologist has suggested that since, “the cause of left-behind children is the separation of parents and children, our ultimate goal should be to use all possible methods to reestablish the family connection.”[69] However, the government’s response thus far has only addressed the symptoms of long term separation and does not eradicate the cause. Without proper management, boarding schools turn into prisons for these children. And how can stand-in parents who are simply fulfilling a quota or going through the motions, provide better psychological healthcare for these children than their grandparents and relatives? The root cause of the long term separation of parents and children is the hukou system and the uneven development of rural and urban areas. These are the structural issues that need to be addressed if the problem of left-behind children phenomenon is to be resolved.

Migrant children

Of the many inequalities faced by migrant children, unequal access to education and medical care are the two major issues of concern for their parents. The central government has, since the 1990s, introduced a wide range of measures to improve education and child healthcare; and many of these measures have addressed the issue of migrant children. (See table: Selected laws and regulations to promote educational opportunities for migrant children). But while the health care facilities and schools for urban children continue to improve, efforts to secure the rights of migrant children to such services are still inadequate. This section will examine in detail the limitations of the government’s efforts in helping migrant children obtain education and medical healthcare.

Medical care

Maternal and neonatal care

In 1994, the National People's Congress promulgated the PRC Maternal and Neonatal Health Care Law (中华人民共和国母婴保健法) stipulating for the first time that Chinese citizens are legally entitled to maternal and infant health care. In 2001, the State Council issued the Implementing Regulations for the PRC’s Maternal and Neonatal Health Care Law (中华人民共和国母婴保健法实施办法) to specify and define the content and the standards of maternal health care, stating that maternal health care should include: 1) education on maternal health: 2) pre-marital physical examination; 3) pre-natal examinations for genetic diseases: 4) delivery: 5) contraceptive surgery; and 6) screening for neonatal diseases. Local governments should incorporate maternal and neonatal health care into their economic and social development plans and ensure that newborns receive inoculations and regular physical examinations. It also said local governments should set up facilities and encourage pregnant mothers to sign up for pre-natal health plans. A few months later, the State Council published the National Programme of Action for Child Development in China (2001-2010) pledging to increase the rates of pre-marital physical examination in urban areas to 80 percent; to reduce maternal death rate by a quarter, to increase the coverage of pre-natal care to 90 percent; to reduce the prevalence of underweight infants to five percent, and to reduce infant deaths from diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhoea. Local governments also set up community health centres for mothers and children. By 2007, free inoculations were available for 15 diseases.[70] These measures successfully reduced the maternal death rate from 80 in the early 1990s to below 50 about a decade and a half later. (See: Maternal mortality rates in China, 1991-2007).

Theoretically, maternal care is open to migrant workers once they have completed the necessary procedures to temporarily transfer their healthcare account to the cities.[71] City governments are required to include these mothers in their health system, to set up a dossier for every mother, and to monitor their health. However, many of these services are not free, and few migrant workers are able to afford them.

According to the 1994 Labour Law, workers are entitled to maternal insurance. The then Ministry of Labour's Circular on the Trial Implementation Regulation of Maternal Insurance for Enterprise Employees (劳动部关于发布《企业职工生育保险试行办法》的通知), issued in the same year, required enterprises to pay for maternal medical expenses, including costs for pre-natal examinations, child delivery, surgery, and hospitalization. It also stated that, by 1999, all urban workers should be covered by maternal insurance. As this goal was not achieved, in 2001, the Women's Development Plan revised the target to cover at least 90 percent of urban workers by 2010. And in 2004, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security reiterated this goal.[72]

However, none of the above documents mentioned migrant workers. As a result, whilst almost all urban women are covered by maternal and neonatal care, only a small proportion of migrant mothers are protected. Consequently, the maternal death rate of migrant workers is between three[73] to seven times higher than for local women.[74] (See Part Two).

Child Heath care

The National Programme of Action for Child Development in China (2001-2010) pledged to reduce the death rate for children below five years old by one-fifth (of the 2000 figures), and to increase the coverage of child healthcare services in urban areas to 90 percent or above. To achieve these goals, city governments developed child healthcare standards for children up to six years old covering almost all aspects of healthcare, such as nutrition, eye, dental, height, weight and other development problems, vaccinations, and screening for common diseases. High-risk children, under-weight children and those suffering from malnutrition were closely monitored.[75] These measures helped reduce the mortality rate for children under five to 17 per 1,000 in 2006, less than the average figure for other developing countries (54), although still triple the average in developed countries.[76]

The National Programme of Action for Child Development set no specific targets for migrant children, apart from a vague clause urging local governments to improve heathcare and the coverage of health insurance for migrant children. In fact, even though some governments opened child health care services to migrant children, this was only seen as a temporary measure with the onus for healthcare provision remaining with the child’s place of permanent residency.[77]

Medical costs in China are notoriously high for ordinary citizens. Under the 2007 Guiding Opinions of the State Council on the Pilot Scheme for Basic Medical Insurance for Urban Residents (国务院关于开展城镇居民基本医疗保险试点的指导意见) 79 cities were chosen to set up a health care insurance schemes for children and the elderly for a number of serious illnesses, before the scheme was to be launched nationwide in 2010. In 2008, university students were included in the scheme.[78]

Some cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing[79], and Zhuhai[80], have already established health insurance schemes for the non-working population. Dalian[81] Hangzhou[82], Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Xiamen[83] have schemes covering the more common out-patient illnesses. However, migrant children are not necessarily eligible. In Beijing, only migrant children whose parents have a “work-and-residency permit” (北京市工作居住证) or do not have to pay temporary student fees, are eligible.[84][85] Tianjin[86], Shenzhen[87], and Hangzhou[88] all have similar restrictions. In other cities, such as Yuyao in Zhejiang[89], and Anshan in Liaoning[90], medical insurance schemes are only open to local children.

Shenzhen is a telling example. In June 2007, the municipal government set up a children’s health insurance scheme covering serious illnesses. The government claimed that all Shenzhen workers who have joined the city’s basic comprehensive medical insurance scheme and whose children are in nursery, primary and secondary schools were eligible.[91] However, these two conditions proved to be major obstacles for migrant children and their parents. Firstly, employers are not required, only encouraged, to include migrant workers in their basic comprehensive medical insurance scheme. In 2008, only 240,000 migrant workers in the city joined the scheme.[92] Secondly, while local children of all ages are eligible to join the scheme, only migrant children who are in school can participate. Neither are children born outside the state-family planning quota eligible.[93] Given that the majority of migrant children do not enter nursery schools, a considerable number of them are not covered.

At the end of 2008, China released two important documents for public consultation: the Medical Reform Consultation Paper[94] and the Draft Social Insurance Law. Both documents acknowledge the needs of migrant workers. And the Draft Social Insurance Law for the first time specified the legal rights of migrant workers to social insurance. However, neither of them made any reference to the welfare benefits for migrant children.[95]

Education

The 1986 Compulsory Education Law stated that compulsory education should be provided free to all children in China. In reality, as we have seen above, students are still required to pay numerous fees and the high cost of education remains a major reason for drop-outs in rural areas. The National Programme of Action for Child Development in China, issued in 2001, pledged to increase the attendance rates of primary school to 99 percent, middle school to 95 percent, and high school to 80 percent. To reduce the financial burden of rural children, in the same year, the central government initiated the “two-waiver and one subsidy policy” (两免一补). Students in the poorest rural areas were no longer required to pay textbook and miscellaneous fees, and boarding students with financial difficulties were subsidized. The Revised Compulsory Education Law of 2006 states that students in compulsory education should not pay tuition and miscellaneous fees. In addition, a “one-fee system” was introduced to prohibit schools from collecting fees arbitrarily.[96] To fund these policies, the proportion of public educational funds allocated for primary education increased from 75 percent in 1995 to 87 percent in 2006.[97](See government expenditure on primary education from 1995-2006). And the enrollment rate of primary school students increased from 74.6 percent in 1990 to 99.9 percent in 2007.[98]

However, migrant children still do not benefit from these policies. Between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, the major concern of government was to urge local schools to accept migrant children. However, migrant children had to pay temporary student fees and numerous other fees to the schools. It was only in 2004 that the Ministry of Finance issued its Circular on Regulating Fee Collection and Increasing the Income of Peasants prohibiting the collection of temporary student fees. And in 2005 the ministry issued the Circular to Strengthen the Efforts to Curb Arbitrary Collection of Educational Fees, which said migrant children should enjoy the same rights as locals to receive education and should not be required to pay temporary student fees and school selection fees. However, even in 2007, the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission still placed temporary student fees in their standard fee list[99]. The majority of migrant children are still paying temporary student fees.

In August 2008, the policy to waive miscellaneous and textbook fees was extended to urban areas[100]. However, rather than giving the same rights to migrant children, local governments were given discretionary powers to decide whether to include migrant children based on actual conditions. In Shenzhen, only migrant children who were in compulsory education and had registered with the Education Department as students (xueji学籍) were eligible. In order to register with the Education Department in Shenzhen, children had to satisfy the following conditions: 1) parents have been living in Shenzhen consecutively for at least one year; 2) both parents and children have obtained a temporary residence card; 3) have a stable residence; 4) children’s birth and the state family planning certificates are in order; parents have Shenzhen employment and social insurance documents; 5) have documents issued by the original schools for school transferral.[101] Children fulfilling these criteria would be assigned a school space by the Education Department.

The Shenzhen government estimates that there are about 800,000 students in compulsory education in the city. Of these, it claims, 600,000 students would benefit from the waiver policy, including 340,000 migrant children.[102] Based on these figures, however, more than one third of migrant children are ineligible. And the figures obviously do not include children in school in their hometowns. Moreover, the complicated application procedures have led many migrant workers, who might have been eligible, to not apply for the waiver and instead send their children back to their hometowns. Indeed, many children who were born in the city have to go to their “hometown” for compulsory education.

And even when children and their parents fulfilled the above requirements, they did not necessarily benefit from scheme, as one parent explained:

This is the first year that Shenzhen started to waive textbook fees and miscellaneous fees. It is very difficult to actually benefit from the “two-waiver” policy. Firstly, both parents should be covered by Shenzhen social insurance…; secondly, we still need to draw lots to decide who can actually benefit from the policy. [103]

In November 2008, the Ministry of Finance, and the National Development and Reform Commission promulgated the Circular on the Abolition and Suspension of 100 Administrative Fees (国家发展改革委关于公布取消和停止征收100项行政事业性收费项目的通知), effective on 1 January 2009. Temporary student fees and miscellaneous fees for compulsory education were on the list. However, as the State Council has already allowed local governments flexibility in this issue, this circular may not facilitate immediate changes. Indeed, in late 2008, migrant children in Shenzhen were still paying as much as three times as much as locals for their education.[104][105]One government official said in December 2008 that the city had not yet received any instructions on the abolition of temporary student fees.[106]

Some urban governments are now subsidizing privately run migrant schools. However the subsidies are small (about 80 yuan per student, per semester in Beijing) and limited to schools approved by the government. The majority of migrant schools in most cities are not approved. Migrant schools still rely heavily on fees and donations from the private sector, such as old computers, musical instruments and library books. Local governments make occasional donations to upgrade facilities, not regular

Lacking commitment or practical considerations?

A study by the State Council in 2001 showed that the central government accounted for a mere two percent of educational funding, provincial governments 11 percent, and counties nine percent, with village and township governments putting up 78 percent of all funding.[107] In 2007, local governments were responsible for 96 percent of public expenditure on education and 98 percent on medical services. (See government expenditure by items in 2007). Because urban governments bear almost all the costs of the provision of social services, they often claim that they lack the resources to grant migrant children all their rights and benefits. For instance, when in August 2008 the central government urged local governments to expand the “two-waiver” policy to urban schools, the head of the Longgang district educational department in Shenzhen argued that it was impossible to waive textbook and miscellaneous fees as well as temporary student fees for all students in the compulsory education age range. After comparing four different scenarios (See: Four scenarios for the implementation of the “two-waiver” policy in Longgang district in Shenzhen - proposed by the Longgang Education Department), he suggested an option that would cost the district 360 million yuan a year but still exclude about 21 percent of the district’s children in the compulsory education age range.[108]

The Wenzhou government has, since 2005, set aside a proportion of the rural education development fund to subsidize migrant schools and to aid migrant children facing financial difficulties. But again not all migrant children are eligible.[109] Leqing city, which is under the administrative jurisdiction of Wenzhou, abolished temporary student fees in 2009, but only ten percent of migrant children in the city were eligible for free compulsory education.[110]

The central government does reportedly extend subsidies to local governments to carry out its policies. For example, the central government claimed that it would be responsible for the cost of abolishing miscellaneous fees in the rural areas in central and western regions,[111] and would share half of the cost with the Gansu provincial government for carrying out this policy.[112] To encourage the enrollment of the non-working population in medical insurance schemes, the central government has also said it would subsidize each urban resident by not less than 40 yuan and rural residents by 20 yuan.[113]

The 2008 financial report prepared by the Ministry of Finance said the central government invested 159.8 billion yuan on education, covering mainly the cost of abolishing miscellaneous fees in urban areas, provision of textbooks in rural areas, winter heating in northern rural areas, and renovation and building of rural schools and facilities in central and western rural areas. The central government injected 27.87 billion yuan to increase the medical insurance subsidy to 40 yuan for each person in central and western regions and parts of the east. It spent eight billion yuan to provide all retired employees from forcibly closed or bankrupted state-owned enterprises with medical insurance, 12.6 billion yuan to improve vaccinations and to strengthen the monitoring of safety of medicine and food, and to screen babies who had been affected by melamine adulterated milk powder. It spent 6.6 billion yuan to improve basic health care in rural areas, and to increase subsidies for mothers in the poorer central and western regions to give birth in hospitals, to 300 yuan and 400 yuan respectively.[114]

However, the central government seems less committed to helping migrant children. There was nothing, for example, in the 2008 financial report on improving migrant children’s education. The central government not only allows local governments to decide the how and when to waive miscellaneous, textbook and temporary student fees for migrant children, it is also reluctant to share the costs of these programmes with them. Instead, the central government “rewards” (奖励) provinces that have outstanding achievements in helping migrant children receive compulsory education.[115]

Even if the central and provincial governments pledge to share costs, there is no guarantee that central funds will reach the counties they are earmarked for[116]. According to a survey of schooling in 54 counties by the National Audit Office, over 80 percent of the counties misappropriated funds designated for education[117]. In the second half of 2008, schools in Shenzhen still required students, including local pupils, to pay miscellaneous fees, claiming that the fees would be refunded once relevant funds from the government were received[118]. Three months later in December the fees had not been refunded. Instead, schools started to collect textbook and miscellaneous fees again[119]. One parent in Shenzhen complained that he was now paying more than he had to before the “two-waiver” policy was implemented.[120]

Because the hukou system links social services to the place of permanent residency, strictly speaking, local governments do not have a responsibility to extend long-term social services to migrant workers. As such, local governments usually fund the cost of improving migrants’ social welfare benefits through their extra-fiscal revenue rather than incorporate such costs into their annual fiscal budgets. The central government has started to urge cities to include the migrant population in their fiscal budgets, and encourages both the host cities and the migrants’ places of origin to share the costs of migrant social services. However, no substantial regulations or plans have been promulgated in this regard. There are only sporadic and small scale projects that allow migrant workers to obtain medical services in the cities.

Unless the responsibilities for funding social services are clearly defined, city governments will continue to restrict migrants’ access to such services. Many cities have made it clear they are dedicated to enhancing the "quality" of their population by granting permanent residency to only the highly educated and skilled workers. Migrant workers with no or minimal skills are seen as temporary residents to be disposed of once the city attains its development goals. In the 2007 Shenzhen Yearbook, the government proudly boasts of its success in slowing down the growth of the permanent population in order to facilitate its transition to a high-technology hub.

One of the main reasons for the gradual decrease in the growth rate of permanent population is that the government is determined to restructure the composition of its population to assist high-technology industries... This form of industry not only has higher added-value productivity, but it also has a lower demand for labour…In 2007,a total of 15,207 out of 100,000 persons aged 6 and above had a tertiary education or above, compared with 952 last year…[121]

Local governments are far more willing to extend social services to higher paid workers with better qualifications (see Shenzhen's hukou requirements) rather than to those with the greatest needs (low-skilled workers). In recent years, Zhuhai, a special economic zone on the southern coast of Guangdong with a GDP per capita equivalent to Beijing and Shanghai, has striven to improve social services and welfare for its permanent residents. Some of the city’s welfare provisions are much higher than the national standard, and include 12 years compulsory education and free medical consultations for common illnesses. In 2007 Zhuhai was rated as one of the ten happiest cities in China.[122] However, at about the same time, the Zhuhai government unveiled plans to raise the threshold for local residency. The head of the Zhuhai Statistical Bureau explained the government needed to spend at least half a million yuan to provide social services for each new permanent resident. It was, therefore, reasonable to raise the threshold. “I don’t think just having a post-graduate degree is enough. Whether or not a person should be granted a Zhuhai hukou should be determined also by the contribution they have made to the city.”[123] Similarly, since the end of 2007, Dongguan has no longer accepted applications for permanent residency based on the purchase of an apartment. According to the government’s own estimate, it needed to spend an additional 2,800 yuan each year to provide social services for each successful applicant.[124]

Recent developments

The international financial crisis has thrown the problems of migrant workers and their children into sharp relief. At least 30 million migrant workers have lost their jobs since the onset of the crisis[125] and many of those who have managed to keep their jobs have had to accept lower wages and benefits.

In December 2008, the central government issued a raft of polices[126] designed to help migrant workers. However these policies contained few specific provisions to aid the children of migrant workers. Moreover, the central government initiatives saddled rural governments with the main responsibility for extending social services to returning migrants and their families, while urban governments only provided services for permanent residents and a limited number of skilled migrant workers. Those who most needed assistance in the cities – unskilled migrant workers – were left out in the cold.

In Guangdong, for example, only those who had worked continuously for at least half of a year could register as unemployed, and only skilled workers (or those from the Sichuan earthquake zone) were entitled to one-on-one employment referral services.[127] Migrant workers from Guangdong or skilled workers were eligible for free or subsidized training. In addition, the provincial government allowed skilled migrants or those in management positions to apply for budget housing and for their children to ask for scholarships when they enrolled in technical school.[128] Unskilled migrant workers from other provinces were ineligible for these programmes and once they lost their jobs they usually had no option but to return home, taking their children with them. Although some cities have specific unemployment insurance for migrant workers, it usually consists of a one-off allowance of around 400 yuan, an amount just enough to get them back home. In Fujian, for instance, migrants who have worked for a year in an enterprise contributing to the unemployment insurance scheme are entitled to an allowance equivalent to just 60 percent of the monthly minimum wage.[129]

Prior to the financial crisis, there was a clear trend towards more migrant children being taken to or kept in the cities by their parents rather than being left behind in the countryside. (See Part Two). Temporarily at least the trend has now been reversed, creating a sudden influx of children into rural areas. This has greatly increased demand for welfare services. The central government expected local governments to meet this demand and ordered rural schools to admit returned migrant children unconditionally. However, Beijing offered little practical help. Because local governments have not been able to provide the additional resources needed, class sizes in some places have doubled to as much as 100 and many students do not have textbooks.[130] As seen above, even before the financial crisis, the government’s provision of social services for rural children was inadequate. Now the situation has worsened.

Another serious problem is the adjustment many of the children who are “returning” to the countryside will have to make to their “home” environment. Many returnees have lived in the city for most of, or even all of, their lives, and will almost certainly struggle to come to terms with a different lifestyle in the countryside. (See: Returning home to life in the countryside). Furthermore, there is good chance they will have to move again if and when their parents find work in the same or even another city, further disrupting their education and psychological development.

The international financial crisis has clearly shown that local government responsibilities in terms of providing social services are still closely linked to the hukou system. In cities, access to social services for the migrant population largely depends on employment. Even if they had sufficient savings to stay in the city after losing their jobs, many migrant parents would not be able to enroll their children in school because to do so would require proof of stable employment. Although urban social services have been gradually opening up to migrant children over the last decade, unskilled migrant workers are still seen as outsiders, temporary residents at best. Only those with the skills urban governments require are allowed to stay on a permanent basis. As the closure of labour intensive, low-tech and export orientated factories in the wake of the economic crisis has shown, once unskilled migrants are deemed surplus to requirement, they are simply discarded, and the responsibility for their social welfare is abdicated to their home government.


  1. In 2003 when the State Council issued the “Circular on the improvement of the services and management of migrant workers”(国务院办公厅关于做好农民进城务工就业管理和服务工作的通知”) and the “Decision of the State Council on Further Strengthening Rural Education” (国务院关于进一步加强农村教育工作的决定), left-behind children, as a special group, were not mentioned.
  2. 我国成立专门机构解决农村留守儿童问题” (A special department will be set up to handle the problems faced by left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua), 19 October, 2006.
  3. 關注農村留守兒童促進兩岸婦女兒童事業的發展” (Pay attention to left-behind children and promote women’s and children’s rights in China and Taiwan) 中国发展门户网 (China Gate.Com), 15 May 2007.
  4. 我国成立专门机构解决农村留守儿童问题” (A special department will be set up to handle the problems faced by left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua), 10 October 2006.
  5. 中国农村留守儿童近2000万 身心发展出现新情况” (New developments in the physical and psychological condition of 20 million left-behind children in China), 中国发展门户网 (China Gate.Com), 15 May 2007.
  6. 教育部关于教育系统贯彻落实《国务院关于解决农民工问题的若干意见》的实施意见” (Opinion of the Ministry of Education on the implementation of “Some opinions of the State Council on resolving the problem of migrant workers” in education), 17 May 2006.
  7. 公安部关于做好留守儿童有关工作的通知” (Circular of the Ministry of Public Security on handling the work of left-behind children), 20 August 2006.
  8. 关于深入实施“进城务工青年发展计划”进一步加强青年农民工工作的意见” (Opinion on intensifying the “Young Migrant Worker Development Plan”, and strengthening the work on young migrant workers), 26 September 2006.
  9. This working group is headed by the Joint Committee on Migrant Workers under the State Council (国务院农民工工作联席会议办公室) and the All China Women’s Federation, in collaboration with ten other ministries and bureaus, such as the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Civil Affairs and Ministry of Finance. It deploys, coordinates and monitors projects to solve the left-behind children phenomenon.
  10. 关于开展“共享蓝天”全国关爱 农村留守流动儿童大行动的通知” (Circular on launching the “Sharing the blue sky” national care campaign for left-behind children), 15 May 2007.
  11. 共享藍天”─關愛農村留守儿童大行動” (“Sharing the blue sky” – Action plan for caring for left-behind children), All-China Women’s Federation, 3 August 2007.
  12. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008). 关爱留守儿童- 行动与对策(Caring for Left-behind Children: Actions and Strategies). China: Social Sciences Academic Press, p.102.
  13. .Ibid
  14. 江西千名大学生担任留守儿童“代理家长” (A thousand university students in Jiangxi become “stand-in parents” of left-behind children), Xinhua Daily Telegraph, 2 May 2007.
  15. 湖南團組織為留守兒童辦連串實事” (A number of things done by the Hunan Youth League for left-behind children),中國青年報 (China Youth Daily), 7 June 2007.
  16. 留守小隊還是代理家長制留守兒童怎樣回‘家’?” (Left-behind children squads or stand-in parents? How do left-behind children return “home”), 新华网 (Xinhua), 11 July 2007.
  17. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008). Op Cit[top]
  18. 代理家长:五一我该怎么陪留守儿童过?” (Stand-in parents: How should I spend the Labour Day with left-behind children?), Hangzhou Daily, 20 April 2007.
  19. 留守小隊還是代理家長制留守兒童怎樣回‘家’?” (Left-behind children squads or stand-in parents? How do left-behind children return “home”), 新华网 (Xinhua), 11 July 2007.
  20. 全国助人为乐模范候选人:谭海美事迹” (The story of Tan Haimei: A candidate for national model for helping others), CCTV.com, 30 August 2007.
  21. 宁夏:各中小学校将建留守儿童心理健康档” (Ningxia: All primary and secondary schools will compile a dossier on the psychological health of left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua), 15 April 2007.
  22. 福建將對農村“留守兒童”展開心理健康教育” (Fujian province will provide education on psychological health for left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua) on 27 November 2006.
  23. 黑龙江100个“留守儿童之家”揭牌” (The opening of 100 left-behind children’s homes in Heilongjiang), 6 June 2007.
  24. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008) Op Cit
  25. 重庆:“小老师”留守儿童项目启动” (Chongqing: Kicking off of the “little mentors” project for left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua), 6 April 2007.
  26. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008) Op Cit
  27. Ibid, p.100-101.
  28. 牡丹江设立 ‘留守儿童爱心电话’”(Mudanjiang sets up dedicated lines for left-behind children), 教育频道 (Education channel), 17 March 2007.
  29. 四川华蓥“留守学生”普及法律知识” (A city in Sichuan province promotes legal knowledge among migrant children”, 新华网 (Xinhua), 29 March 2007.
  30. 公安部专项整治行动严打侵害农村留守儿童犯罪” (A special campaign of the Ministry of Public Security to combat crimes against left-behind children), 新华网 (Xinhua), 28 May 2007.
  31. Ibid.
  32. 公安部:侵害留守儿童案不管大小都要"及时侦破" (The Ministry of Public Security: crimes against left-behind children must be cleared on time), 中国网, (China Net) 6 July 2007.
  33. 全国人大常委会执法检查组关于检查《中华人民共和国未成年人保护法》实施情况的报告” (Report on the enforcement of the PRC Protection of Minors Law submitted by the inspection team of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress). 中国人大网 (National People’s Congress Website), 19 September 2008.
  34. 人大常委会执法检查组检查未成年人保护法实施报告” (Report of the inspection team under the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on implementation of the Protection of Minors Law), 中国人大网 (National People’s Congress Website), 16 September 2008.
  35. Jia, Xiaonuo贾小娜 (2007). “农村寄宿制学校建设工程纪实” (A report of the construction of boarding schools in rural areas), 教育旬刊 (Education tri-monthly), 13:22-25.
  36. Ibid.
  37. 广西加强农村寄宿制学校建设” (Guangxi province steps up construction of boarding schools in rural areas), 新华社 (Xinhua News Agency), 16 Jan 2008.
  38. 公安部关于做好留守儿童有关工作的通知” (Circular of the Ministry of Public Security on handling the work of left-behind children), 20 August 2006.
  39. 中华人民共和国未成年人保护法” (Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Minors) promulgated on 29 December 2006.
  40. 留守小隊還是代理家長制留守兒童怎樣回‘家’?” (Left-behind children squads or stand-in parents? How do left-behind children return “home”), 新华网 (Xinhua), 11 July 2007.
  41. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008) Op Cit
  42. 代理家长:五一我该怎么陪留守儿童过?” (Stand-in parents: How should I spend the Labour Day with left-behind children?), Hangzhou Daily, 20 April 2007.
  43. ‘六位一体’留守儿童教育;成功试点炼就’石泉模式’’ (The success of the “six-in-one” education model for left-behind children creates the “Shiquan” model). 华商网 (China Business Net) 22 September 2008
  44. 大学生创办留守儿童之家 免费教孩子学乐器” (Two university students set up a left-behind children home to teach children musical instruments), 东方今报 (Oriental Daily), 18 December 2007.  
  45. 上海大學生在四川建起6個 ‘留守兒童之家’” (Shanghai university students set up six left-behind children homes in Sichuan), 解放日報 (Jiefang Daily), 13 August 2007.
  46. 新闻特写:走进半李小学留守儿童之家” (Feature article: Walk into the left-behind children home of the Panli Primary School), 漯河教育电视台 (Leihe Education TV), 19 August 2008.
  47. 山东省牵手关爱留守流动儿童5•11大型募捐雨中火爆进行” (The 5.11 donation campaign for left-behind children proceeded successfully despite rain in Shandong province), 百灵网 (Beiling Net), 11 May 2008.
  48. “安庆市开展“留守儿童之家”认建活动” (Anqing city kicks off donation campaigns for the building of left-behind children’s homes),中青网 (China’s Youth Net), 24 April 2008.
  49. 全国人大常委会执法检查组关于检查《中华人民共和国未成年人保护法》实施情况的报告” (Report on enforcement of the PRC Protection of Minors Law submitted by the inspection team of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress). 中国人大网 (National People’s Congress Website), 19 September 2008.
  50. 在农村推行代管家长制的实践与思考” (Promoting stand-in parents in rural areas: practice and reflection ) , 科教新报 (Science education news), 12 January 2005.
  51. “留守小队”、寄宿制,还是代理家长制” (Left-behind children squads, boarding schools or stand-in parents), 中國青年報 (China Youth Daily), 11 July 2007.
  52. 省教育厅副厅长杨辉做客中国福建政府网 ‘下大力气落实好教育为民办实事项目’专访实录, (An interview with the deputy head of the provincial education department, Yang Hui, by the Fujian government website on working hard for the education for the people project), Provincial Education Department Website, 27 August 2008.
  53. 洪泽县寄宿制小学巡礼 (An overview of the primary boarding schools in Hongze county) 教育旬刊 (Education tri-monthly), no date.
  54. 陕西省安排专项经费改善农村寄宿制学校设施” (Shanxi province sets aside a special fund to improve the facilities of boarding schools in rural areas), 华商报 (Chinese business news), 25 November 2007.
  55. Jia, Xiaonuo贾小娜 (2007). “农村寄宿制学校建设工程纪实” (A report on the construction of boarding schools in rural areas), 教育旬刊 (Education tri-monthly), 13:22-25.
  56. 19名代表联名呼吁解决农村寄宿学校饮水安全问题” (19 delegates to the Guangxi People Congress call for improving the supply of safe drinking water in boarding schools in rural areas), 广西新闻网 (Guangxi News Net), 24 January 2008.
  57. Jia, Xiaonuo贾小娜 (2007) Op Cit
  58. 記者關注:黃河邊寄宿制學校的孩子” (Reporter’s focus: Children studying in boarding schools by the Yellow River), 中國青年報 (China Youth Daily) , 3 September 2008.
  59. Postiglione, G.A. (2006). “Schooling and inequality in China”. In G.A. Postiglione (ed). Education and Social Change in China. Armonk, New York, London, England: M.E. Sharpe, p.21.
  60. 留守儿童路在何方” (Whither the left-behind children?), 人民公安报 (People’s Police News), 12 March 2007.
  61. 貧困地區寄宿制學校經費不足 學生處境堪憂” (Shortage of funding for boarding schools in poor areas warrants concern for students) 鳳凰衛視 (Phoenix TV), 2 September 2008.
  62. Su, Ran苏然 (2007). “困扰寄宿制学校的两大难题” (Two important problems faced by boarding schools), 教育旬刊 (Education tri-monthly), 13: 29.
  63. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008) Op Cit, p.102.
  64. Ye, Jingzhong 叶敬忠and Yang, Zhao 杨照(2008) Op Cit, p.64.
  65. 河南鹿邑县民办学校之困” (Difficulties faced by private schools in Luyi county in Henan province), 人民政协网 (People's Political Consultative Conference Website), 9 May 2007.
  66. 記者關注:黃河邊寄宿制學校的孩子” (Reporter’s focus: Children studying in boarding schools by the Yellow River), 中國青年報 (China Youth Daily) , 3 September 2008.
  67. China Statistical Yearbook 2008, Table 9-18.
  68. 小学生跪求妈妈不上学的拷问” (The tortuous problem of a primary school student begging his mother to not attend school) www.cedu.cn 24 September 2007.
  69. 留守小隊還是代理家長制留守兒童怎樣回‘家’?” (Left-behind children squads or stand-in parents? How do left-behind children return “home”), 新华网 (Xinhua), 11 July 2007..
  70. 國家免疫規劃歷經30載 預防傳染病由7種增至15種” (Number of free vaccinations for 30 preventable diseases increases from seven to 15) 中國網健康 (China Net Health) 21 April 2008
  71. 关于印发宁波市流动人口孕产妇儿童保健管理办法(修订)的通知” (Circular on the publication of the implementing regulations for the management of the maternal and child health care for the migrant population, revised), 宁波市卫生局 (Ningbo Bureau of Health), 25 April 2006.
  72. 劳动和社会保障部办公厅关于进一步加强生育保险工作的指导意见” (The guiding opinion of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Office on further strengthening the work for promoting maternal insurance), 8 August 2004.
  73. Chen, Xiaohong陈晓红; Ceng, Yanhong曾红燕,; Liu, Baohua刘宝华; Lee, Xiuqiong 李秀琼,and Wen, Lifang闻立芳 (2004). “深圳市罗湖区1996-2002年孕产妇死亡评审资料分析” (An analysis of maternal death rates in Luohu district, Shenzhen city between 1996 and 2002), 中国初级卫生保健 (Chinese primary health care) 18(4).
  74. Zhang, Wenhui张文慧; Feng, Yanyu 冯燕豫; Ma, Dai马黛; Zhuang, Suilian 庄穗莲; Zhou, Xiang 周翔 (2006). “深圳市龙岗地区流动人口与常住人口妊娠妇女合并症、并发症对比研究” (A comparison of the occurrence of comorbidities and complications of pregnant women in the migrant and local population in Longgang district, Shenzhen city) 数理医药学杂志 (Journal of mathematical medicine) 19(5).
  75. “宁波市儿童保健管理常规”, (General regulations for the management of child health care in Ningbo), 宁波市卫生局 (Ningbo Health Bureau), 25 July 2008
  76. UNICEF report sounds alarm bells about child survival”, China.Org, 25 January 2008.
  77. 关于印发宁波市流动人口孕产妇儿童保健管理办法(修订)的通知” (Circular on the publication of the implementing regulations for the management of the maternal and child health care for the migrant population, revised), 宁波市卫生局 (Ningbo Bureau of Health), 25 April 2006.
  78. 国务院办公厅关于将大学生纳入城镇居民基本医疗保险试点范围的指导意见” (Guiding opinion of the State Council Office on inclusion of university students in the pilot scheme for basic medical insurance for urban residents), issued on 15 October 2008.
  79. 政策解读:如何参加少儿住院互助金?” (Understanding policies: How to join the children’s hospitalization mutual fund?), People Daily, 8 November 2004.
  80. 关于印发珠海市未成年人医疗保险暂行办法的通知” (Circular on temporary implementing regulations for medical insurance for the under-age population in Zhuhai city), 2 August 2006.
  81. 大连投入6000万元为31.5万人看病埋单” (Dailian city injects 60 million yuan to pay medical bills for 315,000 residents), 人民网 (People’s Net), 16 December 2007.
  82. 杭州:调整14项医保养老政策 明年1月1日起实施” (Hangzhou: 14 policies relating to social and medical insurance are modified and will take effect on 1 January next year), 每日商报 (Business Daily), 15 October 2007.
  83. 厦门未成年人基本医保年缴费额降到50元” (Premium for medical insurance for children in Xiamen is lowered to 50 yuan), 福建省医疗保险中心 (Fujian provincial medical insurance centre), 13 June2008.
  84. On 24 June 1999, Beijing promulgated the “Circular of the Beijing government on the temporary implementing regulations to attract talent and the processing of the “Beijing residence card”) (北京市引进人才和办理〈北京市工作居住证〉的暂行办法)”的通知 to grant residence to migrant workers and attract talent.
  85. 北京持绿卡人员子女可参加大病医疗保险” (Beijing greencard holders’ children can have medical insurance for serious diseases), 京华时报 (Jinghua News), 28 July 2007.
  86. 天津启动城镇居民基本医疗保险宣传服务月活动” (Tianjin city kicks off promotion month for basic medical insurance for urban residents), 天津日报 (Tianjin Daily), 15 October 2007.
  87. 深圳將農民工子女納入住院醫療保險” (Shenzhen includes migrant children in hospitalization insurance),  新华网 (Xinhua), 6 December 2006.
  88. “杭州設立少兒醫保基金 農民工子女可享受” (Hangzhou sets up medical insurance plan for children; migrant children are allowed to join),  新华网 (Xinhua), 10 December 2006.
  89. 关于进一步做好学生参加城镇居民基本医疗保险工作的通知” (Circular to improve work to mobilize students to participate in basic medical insurance for urban residents ), 16 July 2008.
  90. “鞍山市人民政府辦公廳關於印發鞍山市城鎮居民基本醫療保險實施方案的通知” (Circular from Anshan government office on the publication of the implementation plan for basic medical insurance for urban residents) , 26 Feburary 2008.
  91. 深圳少儿医保制度9月1日起实施每年交75元即可享少儿医保” (Shenzhen medical insurance for children will take effect on 1 September; the annual premium is 75 yuan), 深圳晚报 (Shenzhen Evening News), 18 June 2007.
  92. 深圳認真落實科學發展觀高度重視農民工工作 (Shenzhen government diligently follows the scientific development approach; places great importance on assisting migrant workers) 深圳特区报 (Shenzhen Special Economic Zone News), 17 November 2008.
  93. 深圳市少年儿童医疗保险试行办法” (Trial implementing regulations for medical insurance for children in Shenzhen),14 June 2007.
  94. ‘關于深化醫藥衛生體制改革的意見’公開徵求意見 (Public consultation on the “Opinion on deepening health care and medical reform”), 14 October 2008. One is to integrate the rural and urban medical insurance systems so that migrant workers are able to receive medical care in the cities. The other is to make sure enterprises pay for medical insurance for migrant workers with a labour contract, and have a relatively stable employer-employee relationship.
  95. 中华人民共和国社会保险法(草案)(Draft PRC Social Insurance Law)
  96. 国务院办公厅转发教育部等部门关于2003年治理教育乱收费工作实施意见的通知” (Circular of the Ministry of Finance to strengthen efforts to curb arbitrary school fee collection), 23 June 2003.
  97. Derived from中国社会统计年鉴(China Statistical Yearbook),1997-2008.
  98. 中国社会统计年鉴 2008 (China Social Statistical Yearbook 2008), Table 2-26.
  99. 财政部、国家发展改革委关于发布2007年全国性及中央行政事业性单位收费项目目录的通知” (Circular of the Ministry of Finance and the State Development and Reform Commission on issuance of a fee list of the national and the central administrative units), 25 March 2008.
  100. 国务院关于做好免除城市义务教育阶段学生学杂费工作的通知” (Circular of the State Council on the abolition of tuition and miscellaneous fees of students in compulsory education in urban areas), 12 August 2008.
  101. 深圳市关于加强和完善人口管理工作的若干意见” (Some opinions of the Shenzhen government on strengthening and improving population management in Shenzhen), 1 August 2005.
  102. 中小学开学 义务教育“双免”政策惠及60万学生” (600,000 students in compulsory education will benefit from the “two-waiver” policy when the semester starts), 晶报 (Crystal Daily) 1 September 2008.
  103. 我们的孩子能否享受“双免”吗?” (Can our children benefit from the “two-waiver” policy?), 深圳政府在线 (Shenzhen Government Online), 18 September 2008.
  104. “深圳市各类中小学收费标准表” (Fee chart for primary and secondary schools in Shenzhen), Shenzhen government website.
  105. 我们的孩子能否享受“双免”吗?” (Can our children benefit from the “two-waiver” policy?), 深圳政府在线 (Shenzhen Government Online), 18 September 2008.
  106. 多所學校向非戶籍學生收借讀費” (Many schools collect temporary students fee from students without local residency), 南方都市報 (Southern Metropolis Daily), 10 December 2008.
  107. Chang, Yen (2006). “我国流动人口子女的教育问题研究” (Education of the children of migrant workers in China), Master of education, Yangzhou University, PRC, p. 32.
  108. 程畅:关于我区城市义务教育免费问题的建议”, (Cheng, Chang: Some suggestions regarding the implementation of free compulsory education for urban children in our district), Website of the Longgang Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, 20 February 2008.
  109. 關於做好流動人口子女教育問題的建議” (Opinions on improving education for migrant children), The General Office of the Wenzhou government, 22 September 2008
  110. 乐清市教育局采取三项措施,确保外来务工人员子女入学”(The education bureau of Leqing city launched three polices to ensure migrant children’s opportunities in education), The Education Bureau of Leqing City, 4 March 2009.
  111. 今秋免除义务教育学杂费 农民工子女不收借读费” (Miscellaneous fees for compulsory education will be waived this autumn; migrant children will not be required to pay temporary student fees), 阳光报 (The Sun Daily), 31 July 2008.
  112. 甘肃省人民政府关于做好免除城市义务教育阶段学生学杂费工作的通知” (Circular of the Gansu province on the abolition of tuition and miscellaneous fees of students in compulsory education in the urban areas), 6 October 2008.
  113. “国务院关于开展城镇居民基本医疗保险试点的指导意见” (Guiding opinions of the State Council on launching the pilot scheme of basic medical insurance for urban residents), 10 July 2007
  114. 關于2008年中央和地方預算執行情況與2009年中央和地方預算草案的報告” (Report on implementation of the budgets of central and local governments in 2008 and the budgets for 2009),  新华网 (Xinhua), 15 March 2009.
  115. 国务院关于做好免除城市义务教育阶段学生学杂费工作的通知” (Circular of the State Council on abolition of tuition and miscellaneous fees of students in compulsory education in urban areas), 12 August 2008.
  116. 審計署公布54個縣義務教育經費保障管理使用情況” (Audit Office publishes finding on funds for compulsory education in 54 counties), 中央政府門戶網站 (PRC Central Government Website), 4 July 2008.
  117. 審計署:八成以上被審計縣擠佔挪用教育經費” (Audit Office: Over 80 percent of audited counties misappropriated educational funds), 人民日報 (People Daily), 5 July 2008.
  118. 深圳居住证取代暂住证’户籍公平’立竿无影” (Residence cards will replace temporary residence cards in Shenzhen but there is still no sight of a fair household registration system), 羊城晚报 (Yancheng Evening News), 3 August 2008.
  119. 多所學校向非戶籍學生收借讀費” (Many schools collect temporary fees from students who lack local residency), 南方都市報 (Southern Metropolis Daily), 10 December 2008.
  120. 我们的孩子能否享受“双免”吗?” (Can our children benefit from the “two-waiver” policy?), 深圳政府在线 (Shenzhen Government Online), 18 September 2008.
  121. 深圳统计年鉴 2008 (Shenzhen Statistical Yearbook 2008), p. 55 and p. 57.
  122. 在哪里居住最幸福? 中国十大最具幸福感城市出炉” (Where is the best place to live? Ten Chinese cities where residents have the strongest feeling of happiness), 中新网 (Zhongxing Net), 7 November 2007.
  123. 户籍人口增长太快 珠海拟提高购房入户门槛” (The increase of local population is too rapid; Zhuhai plans to raise the threshold of apartment purchase value for local residency applications), 广州日报 (Guangzhou Daily), 20 February 2008
  124. 新莞人入戶難 東莞擬財政撥款建新型虛擬社區解決” (It is difficult for migrant workers to obtain household residency in Dongguan; Dongguan plans to apply for budgetary funds to build a virtual community to solve this problem), 南方都市報 (Southern Metropolis Daily), 8 December 2008.
  125. China Says 30 Million Workers Have Lost Jobs” Bloomberg, 22 April 2009
  126. The Office of the State Council’s Circular on Performing Well the Current Tasks for Migrant Workers (国务院办公厅关于切实做好当前农民工工作的通知) outlined the following measures: 1) creating jobs and preventing mass layoffs; 2) providing training for migrant workers and organizing promotional activities for workers; 3) assisting migrant workers to set up their own businesses, and launching local projects to create job opportunities; 4) speeding up procedures for mediation and arbitration of labour disputes; and assisting workers to recover wage arrears and compensation; 5) facilitating the cross-province transfer of social security funds and helping migrant workers who are in difficulties to obtain social welfare; 6) helping returned migrant workers get back their land transferred in their absence, or obtain rightful compensation. To implement this circular, thirteen central government ministries issued the Circular on Stepping up Measures to Prevent Enterprises Delaying Wage Payment (关于进一步做好预防和解决企业工资拖欠工作的通知) urging local governments to set up wage protection funds, and to monitor enterprises closely for large scale layoffs or closure.
  127. 農民工滯留深圳調查:無技術男農民工最難找工作” (A survey of unemployed migrant workers in Shenzhen: unskilled male workers have the greatest difficulties in finding jobs), 中国网 (China Net), 17 February 2009.
  128. 廣東省八項舉措幫助農民工穩定就業” (Guangdong province launches eight measures to stabilize the labour market for migrant workers), 中国网 (China Net), 4 December 2008.
  129. 福建省失业保险条例 (Fujian provincial unemployment insurance regulations), 31 March 2006.
  130. 农民工子女集体返乡读书调查” (An investigation into migrant children returning home to attend school) 南方日报 (Southern Daily) 14 March 2009.
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