Rural - Urban Differentiation, Migration and Emerging Educational Inequalities.A case Study of Left-behind Children in Ganqiu Village, Yunnan
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Abstract After China's policy of reform and opening up to the outside world was carried out in the late 1970s, millions of farmers are flocking to China's cities, seeking work with a hope of improving the living standard of their families in rural home villages. In Ganqiu village, over the past decade, many rural elderly, women and children have been separated from the family's breadwinner as sons, husbands and fathers head to the cities in search of an off-farm income. The rise of internal migration (also known as floating population liu dong ren kou') in China has greatly stimulated researchers' interest in studying trends and the characteristics of this population and its role in the China's economic transformations. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 58 million children are left behind in migrant-sending regions while their parents are away working. China's household registration (hukou) system makes it very difficult for parents to bring their children to cities. The absence of working parents brings both short-term and long-term consequences for children left behind. The impact of the rural-urban migration on children of migrants is of interest to both academics and policy makers, not only because they affect current social stability both in the countryside and in cities, more importantly because these children are the future of the economic and social performance of China. Generally speaking, large-scale migration of people from rural to urban areas has caused a range of consequences: a)it changes the demographic composition of local rural communities; b)it changes the balance between workers and consumers in rural households; c)it changes the importance of off-farm income (remittances) to rural households; d)it changes consumption preferences in rural communities; f)it changes people's knowledge and understanding of their position in the wider world; g)it affects the way household development cycle have impact on left-behind children. This paper focuses on the impact of migration on the education of left behind children. I shall try to address this issue by comparing the educational performance of children in families where at least one parent migrate with children who stay with parents in the rural home area. The issue of the impact of absent parents on children's education is a considered an important policy issue in China today. Given the enormous size of and variation within the Chinese population, I assume that there will also be variations in this impact and in the conditions that affect this variation. I shall try to explore this impact by a particular case study from Ganqiu village in Zhenxiong County, Yunnan province, and I don't assume that my findings are generally representative of the situation in the country as whole. However, some conditions such as hukou system, national economic policy, and the structure of the educational system are quite similar. Other conditions like local economic development, parents' social-economic positions, guardians' educational situation, etc may vary substantially. I shall try to explore of China-wide and particular local conditions are intertwined with each other to generate consequence on the left-behind children in Ganqiu. This may stimulate further research to explore how variations in local conditions impact education of left behind children.