One out of every six children in the country is left behind in villages by parents, forced to migrate to other places in search of work.
And many of these children are not looked after properly, Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said yesterday.
About 58 million of the more than 300 million under-17 children are "left at home", he said. There are about 150 million migrant workers in the country.
Citing the latest survey figures of the All-China Women's Federation, Li suggested governments at various levels build more kindergartens and boarding schools to provide such children proper care and education.
The figures came to light earlier this year while the NPC was reviewing the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Minors in the country.
"Many such children face problems in their lives, studies or with their mental and physical health because of their parents' absence," Li said.
Statistics show only 41 percent of the country's 3-to-5-year-olds were attending kindergartens in 2005, and the percentage was even lower in the countryside.
"The lack of pre-school education is bound to affect their development We suggest the government build more pre-school education agencies in areas where such children are concentrated."
More boarding schools need to be built, too, so that the children get some of the warmth associated with a family, Li said.
And the authorities should ensure that children who move to cities with their parents get the same education opportunities as their urban counterparts.
The other major problem legislators found is the widespread popularity of online games among children.
Li said about 10 percent of the country's 40 million adolescent Internet users are Net addicts, and the main cause of that was unhealthy online games.
"Some Internet cafes in suburban and rural areas even allow children to watch pornography and violent materials," he said.
1. How many migrant workers are there in China?
2. What percentage of 3-5 year olds were attending kindergartens in 2005?
3. 1 in every how many children are estimated to be ‘left at home’ by parents forced to migrate in search of work?
1. About 150 million.
3. 1 in 6.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Dylan Quinnell is a freelance journalist and photographer from New Zealand who has worked in TV, print, film and online. With a strong interest in international affairs, he has worked in Denmark, Indonesia and Australia, covering issues like the EU, indigenous people and deforestation. Dylan is in Beijing on an Asia New Zealand grant working as a copy editor for the English news department.