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Cost of Education too High

Education expenditure should not take the largest proportion of residents' total spending, comments an editorial on the Guangming Daily website. An excerpt follows:

A recent book compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) focuses on the phenomenon of people's rocketing personal expenditure on education, which now exceeds that on pensions and housing.

Li Peilin, a famous Chinese sociologist, called the spending "abnormal" and predicted it would ultimately have a negative impact on the country's economic growth.

As countries become steadily more affluent, spending on education and entertainment normally decreases.

But Chinese parents are increasingly aware that their children's future depends on their education, so they live a frugal life to pay for their children's education.

This trend does not go unnoticed by school managers, who are all too willing to take advantage of parents' naivety where their only children are concerned and lay on extra programmes that must be funded from parents' pockets. Extra fees are chargeable for everything from the very start of a child's learning to a university student's graduation.

Too much spending on education may bring about graver social grievances, especially where children are denied equal chances for schooling. There are surging numbers of VIP kindergartens and schools, which are opened exclusively for the children of the rich. High tuition fees prevent students who are unlucky enough to come from a poor family from going to university. Even those who get to university are not guaranteed a job at the end of it in today's overcrowded employment climate.

Life can be very bleak for those families who have spent every spare penny on sending their child to a half-decent school and have nothing left for their own comforts.

Government bodies should stop schools from offering profit-making extra-curricular educational programmes. This could be one way of relieving the excessive burden on parents.

(China Daily December 23, 2004)

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