Three ministry-level departments have issued a joint circular calling for the complete stop of all illegal charges levied by elementary and middle schools in the countryside as part of the government's effort to reduce the financial load on farmers.
The Ministry of Education, the State Development Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance accused some rural schools of collecting illegal fees, which has hampered the development of education in the countryside and damaged the image of the government, the circular said.
Local governments have been urged to stop the illegal activities. "No one is allowed to do this kind of illegal and corrupt activities, in any form and for any reason," it said.
The ministries called for strict control over the collection of school fees, saying that a unified school charge should be adopted in poor rural areas.
In 2001, primary and middle school students living in the countryside will pay 120 yuan and 230 yuan, respectively, for their annual schooling, but the charges will be reduced or exempted for students from poor families, according to the circular.
Those who violate the law will be severely punished in accordance with the law, it said.
(People's Daily 03/19/2001)