“It’s a problem that has taken over my life”
Mr. Liu, 50, is a migrant worker in Beijing, where he lives with his family.
I have worked in Beijing about seven years, but my hometown is in Inner Mongolia, so my hukou is registered there. Even though I have secured a loan to purchase a home in Beijing and have a stable job with a good income, I cannot get hukou here. I think that even if I struggled my entire life to get a hukou in Beijing, it would never happen. I have a 15 year-old daughter. She is currently enrolled in an elementary school in Beijing, but she will soon have to go to secondary school and begin preparing for her university entrance exams. However, she is not eligible to take the exam in Beijing because we don’t have the proper hukou.
It’s a problem that has taken over my life. If we send her back to our hometown alone, we won’t be able to take care of her. Not only that, but the testing system is different there from in Beijing. I also think it will be very difficult for her to adapt to her new school environment. Yet her future is inextricably bound to this single exam. So, the other option is that we all go back together, which means I lose my job in Beijing.
I was among the group of parents that went to petition the ministry of education last Thursday. There were police vehicles in the streets, and officers guarding the building. It was the 21st time that parents have presented Education Minister Yuan Guiren with a signed petition demanding that Beijing residents without a hukou have the right to take the exam in the city. We nominated five representatives to go into the office with our letter. The result was very disappointing. They told us that the ministry would look into the problem, but they didn’t give us a time frame as to when we could expect an official response. When we brought the problem to Yuan nearly one year ago, he promised to find a solution then, but we’re still waiting to hear anything.
Crowds outside China's ministry of education. Photo posted on Weibo.
There’s an online forum called ‘I want gaokao
’. It’s a place for parents to share their stories. We also have a number of volunteers. Thursday’s gathering was my second trip to the ministry of education. In the future, we are planning to petition the ministry on a monthly basis, and I will go yet again if I can find the time. I hope that society cares enough about equal education rights to support us. However, the reality of the situation is cruel. My daughter is so young. I don't want to talk about the hukou
with her. She doesn’t deserve to be burdened with such problems”.