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This post was edited by sansukong at 2011-12-7 12:56|
Help for those left behind
Updated: 2011-10-31 08:02
A picture can be a powerful thing.
A photo of 10-year-old Long Zhanghuan, carrying her two-year-old cousin in her arms while attending class, has tugged at the heartstrings of many netizens.
The girl, her little brother and six cousins are living with their grandparents in Fenghuang county of Hunan province while their parents are in cities far away. Long Zhanghuan has proved an able assistant to her grandparents, taking care of the little ones.
The girl's photo has drawn attention once again to the 58 million children and 40 million elderly left behind in rural China.
In the village where Long Zhanghuan lives all the able body people under the age of 45 have left for cities to make money.
There are a lot of villages in the country like this one, where the only inhabitants are children and elderly.
Migration from rural areas to cities continues to accelerate, pushed along by China's economic expansion, and the population of children left behind also continues to grow.
We hope that policymakers will pay more attention to the difficulties facing Long Zhanghuan and children like her, as well as the elderly left behind in rural China, and come up with future-oriented policies to meet their needs.
Reform of the hukou, household registration policy, began officially in 1997, when the government abolished some of the hukou-linked quotas set to limit the number of migrants in the bigger cities.
Although this made it more feasible and acceptable for rural people to move to urban areas for work, it did not address the gaps in service provision between urban and rural areas and led to the separation of families.
The reality is that while cities expand and receive more funding from the central government for all sorts of social services, conditions and opportunities for families in rural areas are not improving nearly as quickly.
If barriers to public services such as education continue to exist for migrants in China's cities as a result of the hukou system, then migrant workers will continue to leave their children behind.
Most pressingly, while policies like the hukou system have yet to catch up with the pace of migration, it is imperative to find effective interim measures to deal with the ongoing physical, social, emotional and psychological challenges faced by the population of left-behind children and their grandparents.
The government should try to help them as soon as possible.
(China Daily 10/31/2011 page8)