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In China, parents literally give blood for their children’s schooling

“Parents who deeply love their children are always visionary. ”


-quoted from a Chinese classicAnnals of the Warring States”(《戰國策》)

THE HOUSEHOLD REGISTRATION SYSTEM, which has been in place in China for thousands of years, still has a profound impact on the lives of Chinese people, and to some extent determines their fate.

Because “hukou” (戶口,household) is directly linked to welfare benefits, schooling and employment opportunities, some citizens pay a high price to maintain an urban household, or even just a non-rural household. If a person lives in a place other than his or her household, he or she will be considered a migrant and will not be able to enjoy the various social welfare benefits as well as adequate schooling and employment opportunities in that place.

Some time ago, a notice about points-based enrolment in Wuyi County, Jinhua, Zhejiang Province (浙江省武義縣), raised concerns. According to online news screenshots, children from non-local households who wish to attend primary school in the area must be admitted according to a points system from high to low merit.

Points are earned not only by the number of years of residence, but also by blood donation, volunteering, donations and other ways to increase points. Among them, every 100ml of blood donated is worth 2 points, and the maximum can be 30 points by donating blood; donating 1,000 yuan to charity is worth 2 points, and the maximum can be 20 points.

The Wuyi County Administrative Service Centre responded to the media by saying that parents with high points can be given priority in choosing their ideal school, and that even if they have no points, it will not affect their children’s education, only that they cannot be given priority in choosing their ideal school.

In fact, Wuyi County is not the only place in China to implement the point-based discipline. Different cities, including Suzhou(蘇州), Chengdu(成都), Amoy(福建), Shanghai(上海) and some cities in Guangdong Province(廣東省), use different methods to earn points, with blood donation being the most common.

The points-based enrolment system provides an opportunity for the children of the non-local population, i.e. the migrant population, to enrol in free public schools, which is another way of going to school without having to buy a house or setting down. However, in the eyes of many ordinary migrant workers, points-based enrolment is not an easy task.

“Difficult school enrolment” is still a status quo for migrant children. “If I was a few points short and I knew that volunteering or donating blood would give me extra points, I probably would have done it.” According to Guo Xiaotang(郭曉棠), a mother and an expatriate living in Shanghai, blood donation is a quicker way to earn extra points than other extra points because of its low cost and difficulty.

Guo Xiaotang’s after-work class, for applying her professional certification

Under the points-based admissions rules, a difference of one point can sometimes mean a difference of dozens of places in the rankings. The higher the score, the greater the chance of getting into the ideal school. Therefore, Cai Jun(蔡駿) tries his best to gain points: “When I thought I could get more points, I rushed to donate blood.” According to Cai Jun, in his location, donating 300ml blood can add 2 points, although you can only donate every six months. By donating blood, he gained a total of 4 points, meaning he donated a total of 600ml of blood.

Cai Jun was donating blood for adding more points

Cai Jun came to Guangdong Province from his home in Guangxi(廣西壯族自治區) in 2007. At first, the bustling city was just a stopover for him to fight for his career, and he never thought he would settle here. Until 2017, when Cai Jun welcomed the first child in his life, his thoughts changed.

Compared to his hometown, this city can provide better education, which Cai Jun spared no effort to give to his child. It was then that he began to pay attention to the local points policy. He learnt that the use of points in the local area is not only limited to education, but can also be used to get residence registration. If you want your children to go to a local school, there are two ways to do it: enrolment by points or enrolment by household.

The failure of points-based enrolment does not affect the voluntary enrolment of non-resident students in local private schools. However, enrolment in private schools means more expensive tuition fees, which also increases the burden on non-local parents. And as long as they manage to settle down, their children will be eligible for admission to public schools.

A Chinese TV series called “A Love for Dilemma” (小捨得》), was about children enrolling in school. The mother in the screenshot said, “I can do anything for my child because I’m a mother.

“If my child can’t get into public schools, plus the high cost of private schools, I’ll send my child back to my Guangxi hometown, which means I’ll have to live apart from my children, but I don’t want my children to be left-behind.” Cai Jun realised that if he wanted his child to stay in the big city and attend an ideal public school, he would have to compete with others on points.

In order to win more consistently, Cai Jun is eager to get the residential registration. To accumulate more points, Cai Jun bought a house last year. The repayment of 5000 yuan per month is not a small burden for him. But the 20 points exchanged for the mortgage will contribute a lot to the total of points. In addition, he also spent money for two patent certificates, “what I did are to be able to add points, even one more point is a little more hope, all for my child can go to school in the end.” he said.

At present, enrolment in the ideal school is not a criterion for selecting children from different regions, but a competitive and tough test for parents. This has led more and more Chinese parents to shift their focus from raising their children to changing their background. Meanwhile, Chinese children have hardly entered primary school when they engage in unnecessary competition.

Image at the top by Kirill Dratsevich/ Pexels.

Information from this article came from a Weixing QQ report.

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