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China Cracks Down on Illegal Fees for Schooling

The start of a new school year also heralds a nationwide crackdown on illegal and unreasonable educational fees.

Starting September 15, authorities will be on the look out for universities, high schools and primary schools that charge their students extra fees and local governments and education departments that collect money illegally by imposing charges on students, the People's Daily reported.

The crackdown will be carried out by the State Development and Reform Commission and other relevant departments such as the ministries of education and supervision.

Schools or local governments that illegally charge students will face severe fines, and individuals found responsible will be punished by supervisory bodies, the report said.

The general public is encouraged by the relevant departments to provide information, and last week the Ministry of Education published a series of telephone numbers that parents and students can access to report suspicious charges.

Illegal and unreasonable charging has been rampant in some regions, especially in rural areas.

Statistics from the Ministry of Education show more than 2,500 cases of illegal and unreasonable educational charging had been uncovered through the first seven months of this year and more than 1,000 people have been punished, People's Daily reported.

According to the State Development and Reform Commission, illegal and unreasonable educational charging has been the top pricing complaint in three consecutive years.

In mid-August Minister of Education Zhou Ji warned that the president of any school committing illegal charging would be removed from office.

The ministry also publicized eight cases of illegal charging, including one at Jinshan High School in Shangli County of East China's Jiangxi Province.

Last autumn the school required parents of students in junior grade three to donate a total of 38,200 yuan (US$4,610) for teacher salaries. It also charged some parents an extra 17,000 yuan (US$2,060).

Under the order of the county government, all of the money has been returned and the president of the school has been removed from office.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2003)

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