China is expected to draft its first law on private schools in the near future to encourage the development of the schools.
"The draft to be examined by the National People's Congress (NPC) will provide a legal framework for the development of private schools," said Wang Jialiu, a member of the NPC's Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee during a recent tour of Shanghai.
Private schools have developed rapidly in recent years in China including kindergartens, primary schools, high schools, colleges and job training centers.
According to statistics from the Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee of the NPC, about 54,000 private schools had been set up in China by the end of 2000, with 6.93 million registered students.
According to the draft law, private schools will enjoy the same treatment as government-run schools. The law will also protect the rights of teachers and students in private schools.
Experts said the law is expected to give a boost to the healthy growth of private schools, which are expected to become an important part of the China educational system.
Although local governments at different levels have put a lot of cash into education, government-run schools can't meet the needs of the public due to the large population of China.
The shortage calls for more privately-run schools and will provide good opportunities for investors.
"Many Shanghai students are eager to pursue higher education after finishing high school," said Zheng Ting from the Shanghai Education Commission, "government-run colleges and universities and others can't recruit all of them."
The number of private schools is considerably small compared with government-run schools and they need further development, said Wang.
Under the law, private schools will see some preferential policies such as loans, tax and other financial measures.
Although all government schools are treated as non-profit making institutes according to the Education Law, private schools will be allowed to gain a reasonable return.
"The law will encourage individuals and social organizations to invest in private schools," said Wang. "So more people will receive a more varied and better education and the educational structure will be improved in the future."
(China Daily 05/23/2001)