"Bridging China's Education Gap"

The inaugural Yenching social innovation forum

Dec. 2016 at Peking University

The 2016 Yenching Social Innovation Forum focuses on China's education gap. This theme touches upon a number of systemic issues in China's education system, including the following:

- the education gap between the urban and rural areas of China

- the barriers to educational access faced by migrant children in cities

- the plights of "left-behind children" in rural areas

Ever since the beginning of the reform and opening up period (1979), China's meteoric but uneven economic growth has led urban household per capita income to more than triple that in rural areas, giving it one of the highest urban-rural income ratios in the world. The term "urban-rural gap" refers to the geographical chasm that now permeates nearly every aspect of Chinese society, including education. In comparison with their urban counterparts, rural schools suffer from a range of problems including a drought of high-quality teachers, outdated technology, and low graduation rates.

The education gap also finds its origins in China's residence registration system. Due to uneven development, in recent decades China's working-aged citizens have flocked to the cities to take advantage of the opportunities for advancement. The Hukou system, however, restricts migrant workers and their children from accessing the social services in their destination cities.  As a result, tens of millions of migrant children are barred from attending public schools, often having no choice but to either attend low-quality community-run migrant schools or to return to their hometowns without their parents ("left-behind children").

These marginalized groups of children account for a large percentage of the world's youth. Innovative and creative ideas are needed to ensure that they receive a quality education that can equip them with the skills needed to have a fair chance at life. We are looking for young innovators from around the globe to utilize their diverse experiences and backgrounds to find solutions.