Reading Response


Education and Reform in China by Hannum and Park (2007)

China’s market reforms from the 70s have enhanced lifestyles, inaddition to resulting in unique economic discrimination. During theera, the educational structure was reformed to back economicadvancement, with educational changes happening at a staggering rate.The book is an analysis of the progress in accessing and attainingeducation in China. Notably, attaining education for migrant childrenhas been a major problem for the Chinese education structure, whichis the issue analyzed in this paper.

Attaining education for migrant children

China’s education structure has been incapable of inventing a planthat ensures the education of migrant children. There has been anincrease in the figure of rural labor migrants’ children moving toChina’s towns with their parents. Research notes that there aremore than 20 million children migrants in China, many of whom aredropouts, and half are facing delayed schooling (Hannum, &amp Park,2007). Migrant children also comprises of children born byprovisional migrant parents. China’s schooling policy considers themigrants as rural area residents, making their inclusion in urbanlearning institutions difficult. In addition, accessing educationfrom urban public institutions is extremely expensive for migrantfamilies. Parents are expected to pay fees for their children, whichdepends on the child’s grade. This means that as a child advancesfrom one grade to another, the fee as well increases, resulting inschool dropout or delay in joining the next grade for migrantchildren.

The schools also charge extra expenses to migrant families, making ithard to presume that a migrant parent with a very low earning mayafford to send their child to such schools. As a result, migrantparents have opted to enroll their children in migrant-sponsoredlearning institutions, which do not meet school policy requirements.Legalization of the institutions is another challenge as it has beenslow. In spite of the influx of migrants to urban towns, Shanghai hasjust 519 lawful migrant learning institutions and 200 in Beijing(Hannum, &amp Park, 2007). Legalization has also come with itsdisadvantages, as it has led to an increase in fees. Attainingeducation for migrant children is also impeded by instability. Theparents’ employment is not stable, meaning the childrenconsistently move from one region to another or go back to ruralhomes. The problem is further enhanced by the absence of a compatiblelearning program in China’s schools. For instance, Shanghai andBeijing municipalities have their unique reading and exam resources.Contrary, migrant-sponsored institutions employ textbooks (Hannum, &ampPark, 2007). Poor access to schooling also compels some parents toleave send back their children in rural regions. The children areunable to cope with rural education, due to the shift from oneinstitution to another.


The authors highlight the challenges facing migrant children inattaining education in China. The challenges derive from the seteducation policy, lack of income and migrant status of the children.Migrant parents have expressed their interest in ensuring that theirchildren get quality schooling up to college level. However, bringingtheir children along to towns has only worsened the possibility ofattaining education. Children face difficulty getting mandatoryschooling due to residential policies. Leaving their children in therural regions is not an alternative to the problem, considering thelack of infrastructure advancement. It is impossible for migrantchildren to succeed in life. This is because education is linked toeconomic growth and security for China’s population. Propereducation resonates to the ability to secure better employment,contrary to the jobs of migrant parents. Considering the increase inmigrants, the burden will not merely be on the children, rather thehost towns as well. Lack of education resonates to inability toassimilate in towns. Uneducated children may end up becomingcriminals due to the formation of slums to accommodate them. Others,unable to enroll in schools may opt to work raising the issue ofchild labor. For instance, the authors cite a report from Shanghaidocumenting the presence of 2,300 children working in the towns(Hannum, &amp Park, 2007). Given that the report was obtained from a1997 census, it is more likely that more children are working. Sincelife has become harder, and the enrolment fee to schools has risen,it is apparent that more children drop out of school.


Policy makers are uncertain on what policies are effective orunsuccessful. The government needs to react to this issue byimplementing strategies that make it easy for migrant children attendschool. The mandatory fee should be dropped and more governmentsubsidy directed to helping migrant children attain education. Adifferent approach might involve government support formigrant-sponsored learning institutions. Because the schools havepoor infrastructure, they should be enhanced by constructing betterclassrooms, employing qualified instructors and provide teaching andreading resources matching that in public schools. Developing ofrural regions is another strategy, which will work to reduce thenumber of migrants to towns. A reduction in migrants also means areduction in migrant children. Development should focus on buildingbetter schools and creating jobs for rural residents.


Hannum, E., &amp Park, A. (2007). Education and reform in China.London: Routledge.