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Neighborhood Schools Opened to Foreign Kids
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The children of foreigners working in Shanghai will be allowed to enroll in their neighborhood public schools starting next year.

A new regulation, which will be in place in time for the start of the school year in September, will give a wider choice to overseas parents who benefit the city's development, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday.

Previously, overseas children could only attend international schools or one of 150 selected public schools.

But some expat parents complained the public schools were too far away, officials said.

"The upcoming regulation is designed to facilitate expat parents who are working and making a contribution to the city's progression," said an official surnamed Zhou at the commission's international exchange division.

Children will still be able to attend one of the 150 selected schools, but could instead enroll in their residence's catchment-area kindergarten, primary or high school. There they will be merged in with Chinese students, rather than attend foreign-only classes, as can happen at the selected schools.

Zhou said tuition fees for expat children would be slightly higher than those for their Chinese classmates, who pay about 200 yuan (US$25) a semester for equipment in kindergarten and primary school and a fee of 1,000 yuan a semester at high school.

Zhou said a detailed fee structure was yet to be approved by the local price authority.

For the first time, the rules make a distinction between the children of expats and children who come to the country on their own to study. These children, who are mainly from Asian countries, will still only be allowed to study at one of the 150 selected public schools.

Expats who want to send their children to a local school must submit one parent's work permit or foreign expert certificate, one parent's one-year or above residence permit in the city, real-estate ownership certificate or property lease contract.

A letter from the parent's employer is also needed to demonstrate the relationship between the child and expat, the regulation ruled.

The city's public schools teach about 2,000 foreign students under the age of 18. The number is less than 10 percent of the amount of university students from overseas in the city.

(Shanghai Daily December 9, 2006)

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