About one-fifth of Chinese citizens work in cities other than their registered residence. Yet, many cannot access basic public services, including compulsory education. Recent research in Shenzhen and Guangzhou indicates that fewer than 50% of migrant children attend public school or receive private school subsidies. Social service organisations relay how difficult it continues to be for parents of migrant children to secure the paperwork –including: evidence of employment, social insurance, and a residence card – needed for urban school enrollment.

Even when parents can gather the necessary papers, there are often not enough spaces available. Middle school places are particularly in short supply - children between the ages of 11-12 often have no choice but to return to a countryside they do not know, where the quality of education is poorer. Moreover, urban children are favoured institutionally for university entrance, which can have significant long-term consequences.

Programme of Work

"The Rights Practice's work in China is indispensable and unique because they know how to localise their work and at the same time never give up their own principles as an international Human Rights NGO."

TRP Partner of 5 years working on migrant children’s rights

Since 2016 we have been working with local partners to combat this discrimination through raising awareness and advancing citizen participation among grassroots social service providers and migrant families.  Public participation events have taken place in six major cities across China to raise awareness about the manifold consequences of too few urban middle school spaces. 

Our access to education work has been sharing tools and advice about how citizens can participate in the Chinese context, such as steps for preparing policy proposals, making open government information requests, and contacting local people’s congress representatives to raise concerns or submit suggestions.

Our work is also providing opportunities for emerging leaders in this area to grow through internships with more experienced civil society representatives. Finally support for an active media platform has been informing tens of thousands of Chinese readers towards sustaining momentum for reform. 

Banner image: Fernano Mafra