Floating Children Are Struggling To Adapt Education in Cities

dream2by Dream Guo

With the rapid development of the urban economy in China, a lot of laborers migrate to urban areas to seek employment. However, due to the deep-rooted influence from the rural-urban dual social structure, the rural population is restricted by various factors such as the social system, and social concepts. And as a result, it is impossible for the migrant workers as well as their children to become urban residents within a short period. Therefore, some of the children are left behind and the others become the floating children in cities. Nevertheless, the living environment, psychological performance, as well as their social adaptability in the cities will influence their growth and development to a great extent. Especially since the rural education and urban education has a huge gap, the imperfect institution brings difficulties to floating children’s curriculum life.

As a result of the limited financial capital investment of China in compulsory education, and the unreasonable distribution structure, the configuration of urban and rural educational resources is seriously unbalanced. There is a shortage of teachers in rural schools, the majority of teachers in rural areas is not of high quality, and teachers have multiple roles. All these seriously affect the quality of teaching. Children in rural areas also cannot buy regular books and learning materials, they are given pirated textbooks and dictionaries that have many mistakes in the contents.

In addition, the degrees of education of parents in rural area and of parents in urban area differ greatly, leading to different family educations. According to several news sources, some migrant workers choose to play cards rather than accompany their children when they come back home. To a large extent, it reflects the behaviors of children, thus, in the later research by China Youth Daily (2013), the passing rate of “preschool learning ability” is only 29% for rural children and the excellence rate is even only 0.75%. However, the data of the same test conducted to urban children show a passing rate of 98.8% and an excellence rate of 69.7% in “preschool learning ability”. As a result, although rural children possess certain “desire to learn”, their marks in the overall appraisal are less than half of that of urban children, which indicates that rural children lost at the starting line.

The huge gap among with urban children is already a disadvantage for rural children, what is more is when they float to the city, the difference of education level, system and environment will give more pressure to rural children.

Firstly, many incentives can only be enjoyed by children in urban, rural children going to the cities for studying is often discriminated. Even if they could be educated in cities, they would also be discriminated against and can only return to their domicile to enter a higher school. For instance, floating children respond that their tuitions are higher than that of urban children. Secondly, since the migrant workers seldom attend the parents’ meeting and the proportion for family visit is low, however, the major approaches for the teachers to communicate with the parents are family visits and parents’ meetings. As a result, teachers may not know the family situation of floating children, and hence simply neglect them. Thirdly, innovative curriculum and extra-curricular activities require children’s comprehensive quality. Nevertheless, floating children are not available to develop their specialty because of poor family condition. As a consequence, they may feel themselves inferior.

In sum, floating children’s school performance in some ways reflects their adaption to education in cities. It is found in the investigation that children obtain a strong subjective initiative in study. Though facing many difficulties, they would like to study willingly instead of being compelled. Most of them have definite learning goals, hoping to change their own fates through education and improve their living condition.


China Youth Daily, 2013. Survey Stated Some Left-behind Children Could Not Distinguish Colors or Watch Traffic Light. from http://www.cqvip.com/QK/86785X/201304/47138809.html

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