Students at Beijing's public schools will not have to pay miscellaneous charges starting from the fall semester this year, according to a new policy issued by the local education authority.
This will save each urban family with school-age children an average 80 yuan (US$10.25) per semester, or 160 yuan a year.
According to school sources, the money used to cover costs for classroom lighting and heating, repair of desks and drinking water for students, among others.
Primary and junior high schools in the eight urban districts have been informed of the new policy this week.
The move was designed as a step forward in China's overall policy to ensure all school-age children enjoy nine years of compulsory education for free.
Schools in Beijing's rural areas have been subsidized by the local treasury to exempt students' and all other fees since last year.
The nine-year compulsory education, including six years at elementary school and three years at junior high school, was enforced in China in 1986.
Last year the central government exempted students in rural areas of western China from tuition and miscellaneous fees related to nine-year compulsory education. The same has been applied in the central and eastern regions this year.
The exemption has relieved the financial burden on 150 million rural families with school-age children. Yet most urban, middle-class parents think the scrapped charges are just "a drop in the bucket" compared with the hefty amount they have to pay, averaging 30,000 yuan in Beijing, for their children to enter the best schools.
(Xinhua News Agency September 1, 2007)