The Distinction of Elementary Education For Migrant Children in Beijing: A Multiple-Case Study

Year: 2019

Author: Yan, Kun, Wu, Lingli, Liu, shuhang, Jiang, linfeng

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Migrant children’s access to educational opportunities has been a hot issue in China in recent years. This study focuses on the marginalized condition of migrant children in the current education system. The study used Bourdieu’s theory of class distinction and cultural reproduction as the theoretical foundation to analyze the disadvantaged position of migrant children in the current education system.The current study conducted an in-depth analysis of target schools through the method of case study. We chose three different schools in Beijing to highlight the contrast between public and private schools, and licensed and unlicensed schools.

We interviewed 2 headmasters, 12 teachers, 5 parentsand 2 representatives. Volunteers were recruited via an invitation posted on teacher We-chat social network on three schools. Further, the social networks of the second and third authors, who were the volunteer teachers at Z School and J School respectively at the time, were used. Each interview took between 45 and 60 minutes, depending on the extent to which participants were able or willing to contribute, and all interviews were conducted in Chinese. They were tape-recorded and then the tapes were transcribed. Each transcript was cross-checked by each interviewee. Documents, including school profiles, school organizational and programming requirements, were collected to further understand the school context. Participant observation was also conducted to complement and triangulate the interviews. The analysis of interview transcriptions followed the guidelines described by Bogdan and Taylor (1975). The researcher reviewed the material systematically while remaining open to emerging themes. Just as Bogdan and Taylor (1975) suggested, the themes and patterns that emerge were analyzed to discover the shared meanings and to see if certain themes ran through the experiences of all interviewees.

Through Multiple-case study in three primary schools in Beijing, we identified three types of distinction experienced by these schools and migrant children in these schools: 1) licensed private migrant schools are institutionally marginalized, lacking policy and financial support from the government; 2) unlicensed private schools for migrant children are characterized by crumbling school facilities, poor teaching quality and chaotic management; migrant children experience educational/cultural/psychological distinction in these schools; 3) public schools available to migrant children are located in periphery areas; migrant children are segregated from local children in these schools. Having encountered these distinctions, migrant children are determined to fail. Several policy implications were also discussed to improve this situation and promote educational equality for migrant children.