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US$57.36 Million-Tuition Fees Illegally Charged

The Chinese Ministry of Education (MOE) said Thursday that the government had investigated 475 million yuan (US$57.36 million) worth of illegally charged school fees and tuition at the end of November this year.

The investigation was jointly launched on Nov. 10 by the MOE, the State Development Planning Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the National Audit Office.

The total amount of illegally charged school fees was much less than discovered in the same period last year, Liu Jinping, MOE official, said.

The investigation on illegally charged fees involved 21 universities, 62 middle schools and 60 primary schools in 12 provinces and municipalities including Guangdong, Hainan, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Shaanxi, Gansu, Yunnan and Beijing.

In March this year, the Chinese Ministry of Supervision (MOS) said in 2003 it found 8,539 cases involving illegally charged school fees worth 3.02 billion yuan (US$364 million).

The MOS said approximately 630 million yuan (US$76 million) of the money has been returned after the 2003 inspection in 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.

Liu also said MOE had received nearly 2,000 calls from August to November complaining about illegally levied tuition and fees -- a decrease by 1,043 from last year.

In 2002, Chinese government took measures to standardize tuition and fees charged by primary and middle schools in 592 poor counties, with which 1.7 billion yuan (US$20.5 million) had been cut.

(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2004)

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