BEIJING — Rural Chinese schools had half a million fewer children of absent parents in 2014 than the year before, as many were reunited with their migrant worker families, Ministry of Education data indicated on July 30.
Some 20.8 million “left-behind children” attended rural primary and junior high schools in 2014, according to a ministry report.
“Left-behind children” is the words used in China to describe rural children who usually live with relatives other than their parents, generally their grandparents, while their parents are working away from home.
Last year, the number of rural children attending schools in cities where their parents worked also increased by about 170,000 to 13 million, said the report.
The development comes as the government is making changes to the national “hukou” residence permit system that restricts citizens to accessing services like schools in the area in which they are registered. In some provinces, the children of migrant workers have been granted the same rights as urban residents.
At the same time, authorities are encouraging migrant workers to return home and launch small businesses.
The report also said China had about 155,200 private educational institutions in 2014, 6,300 more than in the previous year. The number of special schools increased by 67 to about 2,000 nationwide, with 394,900 students. The number of nursery schools reached 209,900, an increase of 11,300.