China / Society

Making 'left-behind children' count

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-01 07:41

Making 'left-behind children' count

The children of migrant workers in Hujia village, Jiangxi province, receive gifts in advance of Children's Day, which falls on June 1. LIU JIE/XINHUA/ZHU WENBIAO/CHINA DAILY

Support measures

"Counselors and student volunteers from the vocational school visit the community center every day to support left-behind children, sometimes with drawing and other activities," said Yang Shuiping, head of the township.

The central government is also taking steps to address the children's plight. A protection guideline, signed by Premier Li Keqiang, was released in February, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs set up a new section to protect vulnerable children in rural areas.

"The section will effectively link social assistance, welfare and other resources, and also work to link government departments to establish a comprehensive system to protect left-behind children," according to a statement issued by the ministry's department of social affairs.

While he welcomed the government's intervention, Liu Wenkui, secretary-general of the China Foundation for the Alleviation of Poverty, said the best solution to the problem is for children to stay with their parents.

"Migrant workers should either bring their children with them to settle in cities, or the parents should support them by making a living at home in the rural areas," Liu said.

Guan, from Nankai University, believes greater improvements in living standards and social welfare provision are urgently needed to ensure the problem is eradicated. Few migrant workers are granted hukou, or permanent resident status, in the cities in which they work, which means they and their children are always at a disadvantage compared with their urban counterparts.

"Solving the problem of the left-behind children should be linked to the protection of migrant workers' rights and interests in urban areas. Only when city authorities allow migrant workers to become permanent urban residents and enjoy all social welfare services can the problem of left-behind children truly be solved," he said.

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