Abstract: An Insight into Migrant Students’ Limited Access to Public High School in Guangzhou, China

Hello everyone! My name is Ruochun (Rachel), a freshman who plans to major in physics and philosophy. This summer, I will conduct research for my Sharpe project to evaluate the difficulties students from migrant families face regarding entering public high schools in Guangzhou, China from the perspectives of students, families, schools, and non-profit organizations in a certain community.

Since the National People’s Congress published the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Residence Registration in 1958, all citizens in China have been categorized into the rural population and urban population according to the Household Registration System (Hukou, 户口). Developed as a handy tool to distribute resources in an era of strict migration control, Hukou system fails to catch up the demographic change. During the Chinese Economic Revolution in 1978, a loosened control on migration and a surplus of labor force resulted in a lot of young people leaving their hometowns for big cities to seek better economic opportunities. As the migration progressed, the unit of immigrant gradually shifted from an individual to a whole household, leading to a substantial rise in the number of migrant children. The children of migrant workers, though born in the cities or have lived there for a long time, are required to register the places of registration the same as those of their parents. Without the local hukou, migrant children face one barrier after another accessing top educational resources that help them survive the fierce competition in high school entrance exams.

However, the disadvantage may result from several intertwining factors other than Hukou system. Therefore, I will first conduct literature reviews for an overview of the development of the issue, including the historical roots of the problem, the past relevant policies, and the current situations reflected by statistical data. Then, I will summarize the factors that contribute to the problem.

Using CBPR (Community Based Participatory Research) approach, I will invite the members of the community to participate in my research process. I will define the community geographically by mapping out the “catchment” area of Tang Fu Middle School in Tianhe District, Guangzhou with the help of school’s administrators. I will define the community economically by requesting data from the school, the neighborhood office, local annals, and the community service center on personal income patterns, unemployment rates, sources of income, and population trends in the past ten years, educational levels, and Hukou types and places of registration of families.

Last but not the least, I will conduct formal and semi-structured interviews with migrant parents, teachers, and school administrators to learn their understandings, concerns, and prospect for the current situation of migrant students. I will record and transcribe the interviews.

I appreciate this precious opportunity of conducting the research on the social problem I’m passionate about with the support from Charles Center. I’m looking forward to sharing my findings with you all!


  1. ngaiyueng says:

    Your research sounds interesting. The availability of public high school for migrant descendants is a fairly realistic problem. From what I know, Guangzhou now has a credit system that allows some children with rural Hukou to access public high school. I’m curious about the extent to which this system can improve the accessibility of public high school for these children.