Seven Beijing cultural facilities--the National Library, the Forbidden City (Palace Museum), the National Museum, the National Art Museum, Prince Gong's Mansion, the Lu Xun Museum and the Mei Lanfang Memorial Museum--announced on Wednesday their plans to admit primary and high school students free of charge beginning in May.
Each facility will designate free student days, but reservations are required and students must visit in groups.
Such programs were promoted in a circular issued by the Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage in March. Public cultural facilities around the country were instructed to begin offering free admission to certain groups of people, including students and the disabled.
Even before the circular came out, most of China's museums offered student discounts on tickets.
"The Palace Museum used to charge each student 20 yuan (US$2.40), or one-third of the current price for adults. Our new measure allows primary and high school students to visit in groups every Tuesday for free," said Yan Hongbin, director of the museum's Promotions and Exhibition Department.
Yan said the new policy actually began on a trial basis in March, and has been very popular with students.
"We have already received several thousand students, and reservations have been arranged through the end of this year."
The facilities in Beijing are among the first in the country to offer free admission to students.
"We really appreciate the efforts of the seven facilities," said Zhang Xu, a senior official with the Ministry of Culture. Zhang said the ministry recognizes that it takes time to implement such a program fully.
Also for the good of students, the Ministry of Culture and nine other governmental departments launched on Monday a weeklong campaign against illegal Internet cafes.
Such facilities have been found to permit students under the age of 18 to enter. They are then able to surf on websites with pornographic material.
"The closing down of illegal Internet cafes is for the healthy development of our children," said Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng.
Since February, at least 8,600 illegal Internet cafes have been closed down nationwide.
(China Daily April 28, 2004)