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Shanghai to Close “Irregular Schools”


Pudong District education officials have disclosed that they will shut down district primary and secondary schools for migrant children that have substandard facilities or that offer a poor quality education.

In October, district officials intend to adopt a regulation that will require the 49 schools educating migrant children - staffed by adult migrants - to operate at a standard deemed acceptable, said Li Jianzhong, a district education official.

Those that meet the standard will be licensed as private schools under district government oversight, Li said. Those that don't will be closed.

Students from schools that are closed will be sent to district-run public schools, Li said.

Details of the regulation are still under discussion. But district officials said they have found schools that have poor lighting, are over-crowded or staffed by inadequately trained teachers.

During the past two years, the growing inflow of migrant workers has meant a corresponding increase of school-age children from migrant families, district officials said. Data compiled by Pudong government shows that 38,000 children of migrant workers are in Pudong. Only 18,000 are studying at accredited primary and secondary schools, while 14,000 are at migrant-run schools that are under scrutiny and 6,000 are not enrolled in any school.

District officials did not provide data from previous years.

"Many migrant families choose 'irregular schools' because they cannot afford the additional charge for those who are not Shanghai residents," said Xu Guangxing, an education professor at East China Normal University. The charge ranges from 500 yuan (US$60) to 5,000 yuan (US$600), Xu said. Officials are still discussing how to deal with parents unable to pay the fees.

Another problem: Some accredited schools have rejected migrant children even though their parents can afford the extra charge.

"One of the former school administrators we tried even told us that they didn't want to have migrant kids associating with local kids because of possible complaints from local parents," said Anhui Province native Chen Xinchai, whose 15-year-old daughter was turned down "several times" before being accepted by Donggu Primary School.

Xu Panzhong, a Donggu administrator, said the school has an education license issued by Lu'an Education Bureau in Anhui.

City educational authorities said they have never verified the legal status of such schools.

(Eastday.com.cn 07/26/2001)

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