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May 9, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Schools adapt as migrant children numbers grow

LOCAL elementary schools are seeing a rapid growth in numbers of non-local pupils, mostly migrant workers' children, as more and more people move to Shanghai.

In public primary schools, non-local students in Grade 1 outnumbered local children for the first time this academic year, accounting for 54 percent of the intake.

Teachers work to help newcomers, who often speak a different dialect, keep up with their Shanghai peers.

"Some non-local kids lack confidence when they first come to our school," said Xue Wen, an official at Quxi Primary School, where non-local students account for 70 percent of the roll. In 2006, non-local children accounted for 50 percent of the school's students.

"When they arrive, many can't speak Mandarin and speak dialects that other students can't understand," she added.

Compared with local children, many migrants have received little pre-school education.

Some local parents have complained about the personal hygiene of migrant children, asking schools to place local and non-local children in different classes.

A number of locals have even sent their children to other schools when their requests were refused.

Quxi Primary School insists on teaching students from different places together, so they can learn from each other's background.

Teachers spend an hour after class on additional lessons for migrant pupils from poorer education backgrounds to make up the gap between them and locals.

Shanghai became the first Chinese city to provide free education for all school-age children of migrant workers last year.

Currently, 470,000-plus migrant children receive free nine-year compulsory education in the city.

However, pre-school education is under pressure due to the ongoing baby boom and migration. The city has pledged to meet the pre-school education needs of all non-local children by next year.


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