Shanghai faces kindergarten crunch


Beijing : As the number of migrant workers in Shanghai has risen over the years, the demand for kindergartens for their children has more than doubled, a media report said.

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This has led to the mushrooming of illegal kindergartens in the city, Shanghai Daily reported citing officials Friday.

Illegal kindergartens have even come up in industrial areas. Two such facilities were recently discovered by the authorities in the suburban Baoshan district.

Factories surround the kindergartens and dump trucks speed pass the compounds during the day, raising security concers for the children, the report said.

Some 280 children are enrolled at kindergartens located on former factory sites. Most are migrant workers’ children.

The situation has further aggravated after the government closed down some of the illegal schools.

Officials are now trying to find suitable places for the children before closing down the rest.

They said there has been a significant rise in the number of migrant children, far exceeding their expectations, while capacity to accomodate them at schools remained limited.

By the end of 2009, Baoshan district had 600,000 migrants, which rose to the current 720,000. Most of them were young adults who had brought their children to the city.

The district built 10 new kindergartens last year but that was still far from enough.

Similar problems have been reported in other parts the city, mainly in Minhang district and Pudong New Area.

Last year, some 352,000 children were enrolled at kindergartens in the city. The number is expected to grow to 500,000 by 2015.

There are plans to build 400 kindergartens in the next five years.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Education Commission said they would soon set up day-care centres to ease kindergarten shortages.

The kindergarten service is not included in the country’s compulsory education and therefore enjoys much less government financial support. Parents have to pay for the service.

Day-care centres, with fewer teaching and leisure facilities, will reduce the burden of tuition fees on migrant workers, officials said.