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Beijing Schools Repay US$9.31 Million in Random Charges

Beijing's primary and high schools have been ordered to repay up to 77.13 million yuan(US$9.31 million) in random fees charged to pupils, mainly said to be sponsorship.

The fifty-five school officials involved were also sanctioned in the latest drive by the municipal government to cut back rising random fees charged by schools, city officials said Monday.

Hefty school fees have become a headache to parents of school-aged children in the Chinese capital.

The charges, ranging from thousands of yuan to tens of thousands yuan for each pupil, are often said to be sponsorship from parents.

The money is often spent on improving teaching facilities, but in many cases, is also used to pay teachers' bonuses or even for travel bills for teachers and school officials.

A recent survey in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by the China Economic Performance Monitor Center, an organization under the National Bureau of Statistics, showed that 54.3 percent of polled residents said the growth of school fees has been faster than it should be.

In response to increasing public complaints, the Beijing city authority has opened a special office to check up on random fees charged by schools.

According to the office, inspectors from the municipal education, supervision and price authorities have recently examined 63 schools, exposing over 200 cases of random charges.

Previously, an inspection of 1,296 schools by district and county authorities exposed 180 similar cases.

Detailed results of the two investigations are yet to be reported, officials said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2001)

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