05/14/2011 13:26

The authorities claim they want to close “illegal businesses” but in many cases kindergartens are unable to get a permit on technicalities. Migrants are thus unable to find a place where they can leave their children. Forced closures penalise children who “do not exist” according to city authorities. Experts say that residency laws must be changed.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Beijing municipal authorities are cracking down on unlicensed kindergartens in the city’s Daxing District. Tens of thousands of children from migrant families are now without schools.
The children of millions of migrant workers who live in Beijing are not allowed to attend local public schools because they do not have the proper household registration (hukou). Many remain registered in their place of origin, often to maintain title deeds to local property or for similar reasons. For many families, even when both parents work, their revenue is often insufficient to pay for a private kindergarten. Unlicensed schools for migrant children are an affordable alternative and provide basic education whilst taking care of children for the whole day.
Shi Xiewu works at a glass factory. Including his wife’s wages, his family earns just over 3,000 yuan a month. Yesterday, the authorities closed down the Fenglong kindergarten, in Xizhuan village, Huangcun, where their daughter goes.
Shi told the South China Morning Post that he and his wife now take turns taking care of the girl, “But on a day when both of us have to work on the same shift, we have no choice but to lock her up at home unattended for the whole day.”
In the past few months, the authorities introduced tighter controls on illegal businesses, after a massive fire in a neighbourhood in the town of Jiugong on April 25 killed 18 people.
Many kindergartens that cater to migrant children are unable to obtain the right permits because they are run by people who are also not registered as residents. In China, without household registration papers, nothing can be done.
Zhang Jianjun ran the Fenglong kindergarten, one of the best-equipped facilities, with 350 children.
As recently as two weeks ago township officials told him to buy an 8,000 yuan video recorder for security cameras and two air-conditioners for 1,500 yuan each. He also installed an emergency slide on the two-storey rented building to meet a new security requirement. However, this was not enough because he did not have a residency permit.
In Daxing District, there are an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 children from migrant families in unlicensed facilities.
Even so, no official figures exist because, for the authorities, someone without a residency permit does not exist.
Attempts to change residency laws have been made in the past but they have always failed.


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