Promises and Practices: A Case Study on Compulsory Education Policy Implementation in a Large Migrant-Inflow City in China

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Second International Handbook of Urban Education



This chapter is a case study on migrant children’s compulsory education policies and their implementation in Wu City, a large migrants-inflow city in China. China’s central government has made inspiring promises to ensure migrants’ children equal access to public compulsory education with the “Two Primaries” policy; however, local education authorities at the city and county levels decide whether or not to implement the policy. Using data collected from the Wu City education department, local schools, and interviews with officials and administrators, this chapter highlights the predicaments faced by local authorities responsible for implementing the policy, including: non-migrants’ concerns, the dichotomy between the governmental budgetary burden and potential economic prosperity, the struggle between providing equitable education and the quality of education, and the historical mobility of migrant workers. Local education authorities at the city level are in the middle of what we are calling the “promise-practice framework.” These officials are directly answerable to city stakeholders, but they are also burdened by limited executive powers to resolve the problems, thus contributing to an environment of conflicts.