A test for one Chinese province: How to educate an influx of U.S.-born children

The children are sent back to China because their parents, mostly illegal immigrants in restaurant and shopkeeping jobs in the United States, work long hours and can’t afford day care. The children often don’t see their parents until they’re old enough to return to the country of their birth in order to start grade school.

In a single district that encompasses Houyu and 200 other villages, there are 5,000 such children. In the provincial capital of Fuzhou, they number between 10,000 and 20,000, according to estimates made by officials in 2012.

For this village and others like it in southern Fujian Province, the “left-behind foreign kids” represent a challenge and an opportunity for educators. Because China does not allow dual citizenship, the US-born children are not eligible for local public schools. Instead, they attend private schools set up by villagers especially for them.