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Affordable Education Top Priority
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Rural primary and junior middle schools are forbidden to collect extra fees for students, or the schoolmasters will be removed from their posts, according to sources with the Ministry of Education Wednesday.

Students only need to hand in fees for textbooks, workbooks, and accommodation fees for student residents, Wang Xuming, spokesman for the ministry told a regular press conference Wednesday.

"Rural schools are forbidden to collect any other fee aside from the three permitted categories," he said.

In the past, rural students were charged various types of fees as the main support for rural school operations and teacher salaries.

"The governments should invest in primary and junior middle school operations and staff salary payment. They are not allowed to depend on fees from students to run schools," Wang said.

"Besides textbook and workbook fees, schools are not allowed to collect any other fees for supplementary books and equipment," he said.

Rural schools are also forbidden to require students to buy school uniforms or bedding.

The ministry encouraged local governments of developed regions to provide school uniforms and bedding to students free of charge.

Meanwhile, Wang mentioned the possibility that students who quit studying to accompany their migrant worker parents to cities will swarm back to their hometowns to study.

"Educational departments should keep a close eye on the issue and report to upper governments and help propose solutions," he said.

An estimated 2.3 million children, who should receive compulsory education, have quit school. Most of them are from rural areas.

"We hope that the new policy will attract more rural children back to school," Wang said.

Students and their parents should report to the government immediately if they find any school that charges extra fees.

"Those schoolmasters will be removed from their posts," Wang said.

The Ministry of Education will also investigate cases in which some university teachers have allegedly cheated in academic papers, the spokesman said.

"The Ministry of Education will cooperate with the Ministry of Science and Technology and relevant universities to punish those teachers if they have cheated," he said.

Late last year, Qiu Xiaoqing, a professor with the Sichuan University in southwest China reportedly cheated in a medical paper.

Earlier, Shen Luwei, an associate professor at the Tianjin Foreign Studies University was criticized by a local language academy for plagiarism in one of his books.

(China Daily January 26, 2006)

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