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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 12:52 GMT
Clashes after China school closed

Children of Chinese migrant workers learn how to write - archive image
Tens of thousands of migrant children attend unregistered schools
Chinese authorities have forcibly shut a school in Shanghai for 2,000 children of poor migrants, sparking clashes with parents and teachers, it is reported.

About 300 government officials and police interrupted classes and ordered pupils onto buses at Jianying Hope School in the Putuo district on Friday.

The fracas occurred on Monday after parents returned to demand the children be allowed to finish their school term.

The pupils were mainly children of migrant workers from Anhui province.

The Xinan Evening News, a newspaper published in Anhui province, said police dispersed the crowd, beating and pushing people, although no arrests or serious injuries were reported.

They told us that Jianying is an illegal school and the teaching here was not up to standard
School director Zhen Maohui

The Putuo district police declined to comment on the incident.

Local education officials said the school was closed because its "environment was unsuitable for teaching" and the teachers were "unqualified".

The school's lease was also said to have expired and that it was situated in a land clearance area - earmarked for property or industrial redevelopment, the newspaper reported.

"Police, city management officials and education bureau officials rushed into our school without giving us any notice," the school's director, Zhen Maohui, told AFP news agency.

"They told us that Jianying is an illegal school and the teaching here was not up to standard," said Mr Zhen.

Reports said the students were being transferred to another school in western Shanghai.

'Steep tuition fees'

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing says migrants' low pay and long hours has given Chinese manufacturers a great competitive advantage.

But the workers share few of the rights enjoyed by China's city dwellers and are often subject to discrimination, our correspondent adds.

Under Chinese law, children of the country's tens of millions of poor migrant workers are often barred from attending local schools unless they pay steep fees.

Last month, China announced plans to abolish tuition and other fees for 150 million rural students, in a bid to narrow the gap between wealthy coastal provinces and poorer regions.

However, children of rural families who have migrated to China's booming cities will not be included.

Last year, the Beijing city government began a campaign to shut down up to 239 unregistered migrant schools attended by more than 95,000 children.

While these schools are usually unregistered, human rights groups say they exist because of the government's refusal to help migrant workers and their families.

Strong demand for land for urban redevelopment in Shanghai, Beijing and other cities has also sharpened such conflicts.


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