Educational Barriers for Migrant Children in China: A Mixed-Method Analysis Focused on Ethnic Minorities

The Impact and Transformation of Education Policy in China

ISBN: 978-1-78052-186-2, eISBN: 978-1-78052-187-9

ISSN: 1479-3679

Publication date: 30 December 2011


Using Kunming, the capital of China's southwest Yunnan Province, as an example, this mixed-methods research examines three interacting dimensions of social change in contemporary China: migration, ethnicity, and education. In particular, it sheds light on the issue of educational achievement of migrant children, especially children of ethnic minority background. The quantitative portion of the study is based on data gathered from over 700 sample students, teachers, and principals who participated in the “2008 Kunming Migrant Children's Survey.” A two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) is employed to identify student- and school-level factors and to estimate the impacts of these factors on migrant children's academic achievement. The qualitative portion of the study is based primarily on the data collected through in-depth individual interviews and focus-group discussions with 97 migrant students, teachers, and school principals from 10 government and nongovernment migrant children's schools in Kunming between 2008 and 2009. The qualitative and quantitative results highlight four interrelated groups of educational barriers experienced by migrant students in pursuing compulsory education: institutional, socioeconomic, cultural, and psychological barriers. In particular, cultural and psychological barriers, including difficulty in school adaptation, low self-esteem, lack of family support, and discrimination against ethnic minorities due to their different religious beliefs and ethnic traditions, are found to have exerted particularly significant negative influences on academic achievements of ethnic minority students.



Cheng, H. (2011), "Educational Barriers for Migrant Children in China: A Mixed-Method Analysis Focused on Ethnic Minorities", Huang, T. and Wiseman, A. (Ed.) The Impact and Transformation of Education Policy in China (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 267-312.

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