Fri, August 29, 2008
China > Mainland

One in six kids left at home by migrating parents

2008-08-29 01:59:21 GMT2008-08-29 09:59:21 (Beijing Time) China Daily

Girls play in the classroom during a break between classes in a school for migrant workers' children in the suburbs of Shanghai in this March 6, 2008 file photo. One out of every six children in China is left behind in villages by parents, a latest survey shows. (REUTERS/Nir Elias)

One out of every six children in the country is left behind in villages by parents forced to migrate to other places in search of work.

And many of these children are not looked after properly, Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said Thursday.

About 58 million of the more than 300 million under-17 children are "left at home", he said. There are about 150 million migrant workers in the country.

Citing the latest survey figures of the All-China Women's Federation, Li suggested governments at various levels build more kindergartens and boarding schools to provide such children proper care and education.

The figures came to light earlier this year while the NPC was reviewing the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Minors in the country, he said.

"Many such children face problems in their lives, studies or with their mental and physical health because of their parents' absence," Li said.

Statistics show only 41 percent of the country's 3-to-5-year-olds were attending kindergartens in 2005, and the percentage was even lower in the countryside.

"The lack of pre-school education is bound to affect their development We suggest the government build more pre-school education agencies in areas where such children are concentrated."

More boarding schools need to be built, too, so that the children get some of the warmth associated with a family, Li said.

And the authorities should ensure that children who move to cities with their parents get the same education opportunities as their urban counterparts.

The other major problem legislators found is the widespread popularity of online games among children.

Li said about 10 percent of the country's 40 million adolescent Internet users are Net addicts, and the main cause of that was unhealthy online games.

"Some Internet cafes in suburban and rural areas even allow children to watch pornography and violent materials," he said.

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