“Under the Same Blue Sky?” by Tan

Author’s Main Idea

In the elaboration of how education systems need to transition from a localized, nation-state type, to a more global and decentralized education system; the author tries to paint a picture of the homogenous nature of the society and how the education system needs to reflect this diversity (Tan, 2010, p. 1). In this manner, the author notes that social diversity should be included in the education system and a more cosmopolitan approach to learning should be adopted to reflect the homogenous nature of the society. Emphasis is made on migrant children as a special education group that should be accorded equal rights to education because they are entitled to education as a basic human right (Tan, 2010, p. 1).

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The author effortlessly notes that governments (and more specifically the Chinese government) have consistently failed in their duty to provide equal education opportunities for all because they are more concerned with economic and political responsibilities like the global economic downturn and how to mitigate its effects (Tan, 2010). The author further notes that even though minimal efforts have been made to establish local public schools to address the inequalities in education (for migrant children), he identifies that this effort is not enough, and more should be done, with regards to policy amendments (by the government) to completely overhaul the education system to accommodate minority interests and reflect the homogeneity that demands of the society.

Evaluation of Article Components

The author identifies the social nature of migration as an important component to the comprehension of migrant children’s needs in society. This component of the study is important because it explains the background nature of the study and the dynamics of the problem of study. Reference is made to the hu kou system which tends to limit the economic and social progression of Chinese migrant families, and which eventually comes out as the root of the educational inequalities of the country (Tan, 2010, p. 3). From this analysis, readers can easily understand the socio-economic structures that bring about inequalities in the Chinese educational system. Moreover, through the analysis of social migration and the limitations set by the hu kou system, readers get to learn of the institutional discrimination practices carried out in the country, and how the limitation on the urban social services of the country is undertaken. The conditions that plague migrant families like low pay, poor working conditions, congested living conditions, and the likes (that consequently affect their ability to procure good education services) are also exposed so that learners can understand the underlying issues that affect access to education for migrant families.

In the second component of the study, the author explains the status of migrant children and their families, as a neglected population group in China. In other words, he tries to explain that children migrant population groups do not have the same opportunities and rights as urban children in China (Tan, 2010). The distinction is specially cut along urban and rural populations. Despite the presence of existent regulations to eliminate discriminatory practices in the country, the author paints a picture that migrant children are normally treated as second-class citizens in the cities (Tan, 2010, p. 5). The inequalities that the central government (which is supposed to uphold the rights of both groups of children) is also identified as part of the problem that brings about unequal education access for migrant children (Tan, 2010, p. 5).

This component of the study especially exposes the negligent nature of the government in taking care of all its citizens, regardless of their social status. In other words, the government is seen as part of the problem. This is an essential component of the article because it was important to highlight the attitude of the government in providing education services to all students and children groups. This would normally be an important analysis to most readers because many would be curious to understand the attitude of the government, which in most societies is supposed to uphold the rights of the minority.

In light of the suppressive government policies experienced in China and the apparent inability for migrant children to have access to equal opportunities in education; the author writes of adequate measures that have been undertaken by the migrant population group to establish their own migrant schools (Tan, 2010). Unlike conventional public schools, migrant-run schools enroll students from all over the country. These schools were essentially developed to eliminate any institutional discriminatory practices that were imposed on migrant children. Moreover, they were meant to provide migrant children with mandatory education as their basic right (and represent the homogeneity and social diversity that existed in the country) (Tan, 2010, p. 6).

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This component of the study is an effort by the author to expose the developments made towards achieving equal education opportunities for migrant children. In detail, he exposes the challenges these migrant-run schools face, and what measures the administrators are taking to remedy its needs. Through focusing on the challenges of migrant schools, the readers are able to see how educational inequalities can be solved and what it takes to establish centers of excellence that cater to the needs of all population groups. In this regard, the author identifies problems revolving around ineffective curriculums, poor funding, lack of competent teachers, overcrowding in schools, lack of adequate facilities, and the likes. Nonetheless, despite all the challenges, the author exposes the fact that migrant schools are a source of renewed hope for migrant children because they remedy the inequalities exhibited in conventional public schools.

In the last segment of the study, the author identifies the negative effect of the recent global economic crunch which has significantly affected the socio-economic makeup of the country (Tan, 2010, p. 9). More importantly, he tries to expose the link between the economic underpinnings of the society and the challenges that face migrant children in accessing quality education. In doing so, he identifies that the global economic slump has significantly increased the level of unemployment in China to an all-time high of 9% (Tan, 2010). This fact significantly increased the level of competition for the few remaining job opportunities between the migrant and urban populations. Consequently, due to pressure from the urban population, the government has been forced to give priority to urban dwellers (in employment) while leaving the migrant population to wander.

This development has significantly had an effect on migrant families and consequently forced many to go back to the rural areas. It is from this point of view that the author exposes the problems migrant population groups experience because they have been forced to adapt to new curriculums and worse standards of educations that are synonymous to rural settings (Tan, 2010). This is a unique problem the author identifies as part of the challenges affecting migrant children groups. The link between this type of problem and the quest for migrant children to have good education can be sampled as a retraction of the gains made in helping migrant children groups have equal access to education opportunities. Since the author relates this challenge to the global economic down-turn, it remains interesting to note whether the pattern can be reversed in the near future when the global economy picks up again. However, it is important to note that the author here tries to show how education is linked to social, political and economic developments because comprehensively, these factors influence the access and quality of education for all children.

In a deeper sense, these dynamics can be seen to have an impact on instructional practices of the country, in the sense that, political, economic and economic changes significantly define instructional practices in the society. Conversely, it is correct to note that instructional practices are a reflection of the society’s dynamics and often, they are designed to solve society’s problems or the problems surrounding education for that matter. It is therefore correct to note that instructional practices will always be designed in a manner that reflects the socio-economic underpinnings of the society.


The analyzed article is meant to expose the challenges migrant population groups face in China, with regards to education access and the upheaval of high quality education. More importantly, this study notes that integration is the key towards achieving equal education opportunities for all. Despite these recommendations, the article notes that the continued trend of consistently upholding social and economic barriers to prevent migrant children from accessing education opportunities will consequently lead to an acute social problem in future. This can be equated to unemployment, increased crime and poor access to basic social services. With such kind of danger, the article asks how the government is going to control such kind of eventuality if it cannot remedy the inequalities in education. This should be the biggest concern for the government.

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Tan, G. (2010). Under the Same Blue Sky? Inequity in Migrant Children’s Education in China. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 12(2), 1-12.

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