This academic year (2008-2009), for the first time, Shenzhen law allowed for students without Shenzhen hukou to have the same rights to compulsary education (义务教育) as students with Shenzhen hukou. Of the roughly 600,000 school children in Shenzhen, 340,000 do not have Shenzhen hukou. It was estimated that the reforms would cost the government 400 million rmb.
At the press conference announcing the decision, Vice Mayor Yan Xiaopei (闫小培) said that there were two bright spots to the new policy that would make compulary education in Shenzhen more equitable. First, was that education for non-Shenzhen students would be free, just as it is for Shenzhen students. Second, in addition to providing free education, the city would also begin issuing free textbooks. In addition, public and private schools would be obligated to follow the same standard for payment of additional fees.
Of course, these reforms are welcome. However, they point to two ongoing education problems in Shenzhen: 1. The lack of good high schools for the number of students in the city, which means that those who don’t test into a top school and have college ambitions leave the city for high school even if they have Shenzhen hukou and 2. the link between taking the college entrance exam (高考) and hukou.
This April at the Shenzhen two Conferences (the National People’s Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference), Shenzhen began debate about dissolving the law that requires high school 3 students to return to their hometowns to take the college entrance exam. A few quotes from the debate:
到目前为止，对于政协委员和居民的呼声，深圳市政府方面显得很冷静。对于“取消高考资格户籍限制”的建议，深圳市教育局副局长坦承：“这是一个非常好的理 想。”但唐海海随即表示，高考资格之所以有户籍限制，有多方面的原因。深圳社会科学院社会发展研究所所长、深圳市决策咨询委员会委员杨立勋认为，在目前配 套政策没出来之前，放开高考户籍限制会出问题。深圳市人口办有关负责人也表示：深圳是特大城市中户籍准入最开放的城市，深圳的人口压力已经很大了，如果完 全放开，可能会带来很多问题。
(from xinhua net): To date, the Shenzhen government remains cool in the face of the desires of the Consultative Conference and Shenzhen citizens. With respect to the suggestion to “dissolve hukou limits on the college entrance exam”, Shenzhen Vice Minister of Education, Tang Haihai (唐海海) said, “This is a wonderful ideal.” However, the Vice Minister then pointed out that there are many reasons why participation in the college entrance exam is limitted by hukou. According to Yang Lixun, Head Social Development Research Department of the Shenzhen Academy of Social Sciences and Member of the Shenzhen Policy Consultant Commity, until an entire set of related policies are in place, disolving hukou restrictions on participating in the gaokao will only lead to problems. A person in the municipal population office pointed out: Shenzhen hukou policy is the most liberal of all the especially large cities, and population pressure in the city is already very great, if [hukou restrictions] are completely dissolved, it is possible that many problems will follow.
In the meantime, the “Sunny Internet” program for middle and high school students who will take the high school and college entrance exams, respectively, enters its fourth year. All of Shenzhen’s schools are required to put basic information online, for free, in the interest of fairness. Required information includes: the kind of school (public, public-private hybrid, run privately owned by the state) its ranking (provincial first level…), target students, recruiting field (the whole city, a particular district), costs, address, and where to go for more information. For those desiring the latest information on both tests, visit the Shenzhen Tests Website (深圳招考网).