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Education not Money Machine


As the public's ardor for education is on the rise, so does some schools' zeal for money.

In the first quarter of the year, unwarranted education fees amounted to 11 million yuan (US$1.33 million), almost half of the total unwarranted fees checked by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Commodity Prices.

The figures are alarming, for such exorbitant and unjustifiable charges on education bring dire consequences.

When schools begin to collect undue fees under such excuses as building maintenance and education equipment, they are likely to freeze some children from poor families out of education, even compulsory schooling.

And such cases are not confined to big cities. In rural areas, to supplement the shortage of education funds and make up for arrears in payment of teachers' salaries, some schools enforce rises in tuition fees and demand collective funds from parents. In extreme cases, even chairs and desks at schools bear a price tag for pupils.

Today's society embraces a market economy, but education certainly should not be a luxury for the public, especially for those school-aged.

The charging of exorbitant fees will not only ruin some children's future but also undermine the State's obligation and goal of providing basic education for all. And its adverse effects go far beyond the education sector.

When the public, driven by spiraling costs in education, begin to believe that education is nothing but an expensive commodity, they may have dim expectations for future consumption and tend to save more for their children's education.

This may partly explain the current huge individual savings in China. It is reported that the top concern for people to save their money nowadays is for their children's education.

Many local governments have adopted some countermeasures. Informant hotlines are established in cities for the public to report and disclose such illegal practices, and schools are enforced to make public their charges.

However, what is more important is for society to have faith in the real objective of education, and the goal of education should never be traded for profit.

(China Daily April 17, 2002)

In This Series

Shenyang Citizens Give Poor Grades to Their Educational System

Chinese Families Spend Heavily on Children's Education

Most Families Cannot Afford Higher Ed Costs, Study Shows

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