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April 19, 2013

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Migrants to be majority in suburb's preschools

NEARLY half of the preschoolers at public kindergartens in suburban Fengxian District are migrant children, who soon will outnumber local kids and add more pressure on schools that are already full.

Fengxian, in southern Shanghai, is home to 580,000 migrants, accounting for more than 52 percent of the district's total population. Many bring their children with them.

Fengxian District has been stepping up construction of new kindergartens but has difficulty catching up with the growing educational demands of migrant families, officials said.

"We build three to five kindergartens every year as well as some day-care centers," said Lu Jianguo, director of Fengxian District Education Bureau. "But we still have to build more."

Fengxian now has 76 kindergartens, including 41 that are public and 35 private. Migrant children accounted for 48.6 percent of the students at public kindergartens.

The number of migrant children grows by 10 percent every year, the district bureau said.

Lu said building new schools also brings financial challenges and the need to recruit new teachers.

Sources of private capital are encouraged to build private kindergartens, which serve mainly migrant children.

In the past five years, Fengxian recruited 500 kindergarten teachers and childcare workers.

Lu said the district plans to recruit 300 more this year but has signed only 170.

"Most students majoring preschool education in Shanghai have jobs before graduation in June. We plan to go to other provinces in May and see if we can recruit good out-of-town teachers and graduates," Lu said.


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