South China's Guangdong Province will become the first region in the country to simplify school fees at primary and middle schools beginning this fall.
Local government officials said the province's primary schools will charge a single fee called textbook fee. Junior and senior middle schools only charge tuition fee. As a result, schooling fees may decrease 25 percent in some areas.
It is estimated that the new system can save parents of the province's 16 million primary and middle school children about 800 million yuan (US$96.6 million). What's more, the collection of fees will become more transparent.
China's educational law provides for a nine-year compulsory education for children of schooling age. In some regions, however, random charges have resulted in soaring education fees, forcing urban families to spend a large part of their income on education and pushing some poor rural children out of schools.
According to officials in Guangdong, random school charges have also led to corruption in the education sector. Some educational authorities have embezzled fees collected from students.
(Xinhua News Agency July 22, 2002)