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Central Government Sends Inspectors to Root Out Unreasonable School Fees
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China's central government is launching another round of efforts to curb unreasonable school fees to ensure that students in medium and low-income families have access to tuition.

The central government will dispatch six inspection teams to schools and universities in its western, central and eastern regions.

The inspection teams will focus on primary and middle schools in the less developed western regions, where school fees have been abolished.

Qu Wanxiang, deputy director of the Ministry of Supervision, ordered the inspectors to carry out "strict investigations" to prevent overcharging by the schools.

"This is in the direct interest of the public. We must fulfill this task with a high sense of responsibility," he said at a meeting on Monday.

Inspections will also be conducted to see whether financial investment from the central and provincial governments has been allocated to the schools efficiently and used appropriately, Qu said.

In the country's more prosperous central and eastern regions, inspection teams will focus on unreasonable charges collected by universities, said Qu.

Arbitrary charges imposed by schools, universities and local governments have become major obstacles to students of medium and low-income families attending school.

Earlier reports said that about 1.7 billion yuan (around US$212.5 million) in unreasonable school fees have been charged between January 2003 and March 2006.

A total of 794 school heads were removed from their posts and more than 5,900 people received administrative and Party disciplinary punishment after the first round of inspections in 2003.

The subsidies have dampened the impact of rising prices for seeds, fertilizer, diesel and other commodities which have pushed up farming costs.

Central government subsidies for agricultural machinery and tools doubled to 600 million yuan in 2006 and local government subsidies rose 30 percent to 1.06 billion yuan.

(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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