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School Closure Prompts a Tussle
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An angry scene greeted Shanghai authorities when they arrived to close an unlicensed school for students from migrant families and relocate them to a new facility.


Pushing and shoving broke out as teachers and parents faced off against Putuo District Education Bureau officials who shut down the Jianying Hope School on Friday. But no serious injuries occurred, and no arrests were made.


And the nearly 1,900 students are now taking classes nearby in a new branch of Caoyang Primary School, which was built last year to handle the district's influx of migrant children.


Parents apparently resisted sending their kids to a public school because of the higher costs and courses that differed from those in their hometowns.


For the remainder of this semester, however, the students from migrant families will be exempt from lunch fees, bus charges and other expenses. But these students will have to bear the same costs as their local peers starting next semester, officials said. They will also have to pay a 500 yuan (US$62.50) registration fee that's levied for each of the year's two semesters for children who don't have city residency.


"All the actions were taken to stop the unlicensed school from continuing, as its dilapidated buildings and unqualified faculty posed great threats to the children," said Fan Yigang, vice director of the district education bureau.


Set up in 1996, Jianying was run by Yao Wenjian, an Anhui Province native. The facility had nearly 2,000 students ranging from preschool age to 12th-grade and about 60 teachers at the end of last year.


District education authorities said one-third of Jianying's faculty didn't have teaching licenses. The buildings that the school rented were in an old factory, which posed hidden fire hazards, they said.


"We have issued warning notices to the school repeatedly since 2005, requesting the headmaster to make remedies immediately -- but in vain," Fan said.


He said the last notice was sent on December 31, informing the school it would be shut down in a few weeks.


On Friday, a team of bureau officials and police officers entered the school to close it by force, touching off the shoving match with parents and teachers.


A parent surnamed Shi was quoted by an Anhui newspaper as complaining the "children were scared by the riotous scene."


(Shanghai Daily January 10, 2007)

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