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'Dragon babies' number swells to decade high
By Liang Yiwen

THE number of newborn in the city rose to nearly 240,000 last year.

The figure is the highest since 2001, when the number was only 57,630 newborns, according to the website of the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

Figures before 2001 are not available.

The baby boom started in 2007 and is expected to last till 2017 with the auspicious Year of Dragon adding to the rush.

A total of 239,600 "Dragon babies" were born last year, the Shanghai Health Bureau announced yesterday.

Given the baby boom, the city has an ambitious plan to build 1,042 kindergartens and schools between 2011 and 2015.

About 80 percent of the new kindergartens and schools will be on the city's outskirts.

Moreover, the existing kindergartens have been told to enlarge its class size by 10 percent.

As demand grows, unlicensed kindergartens have sprung up in Shanghai's outlying districts.

While some have been shut down by the authorities, those with decent facilities that met the bureau's basic health and safety requirements were allowed to be upgraded into day care centers.

The number of local kindergarten students also doubled to about 444,000 between 2005 and 2011, according to the figures released by the Shanghai Education Commission.

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