Ed­u­ca­tion quandary

Some pri­vate schools may have to go non­profit

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO XINYING and CAO YIN Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment will need to pro­vide fi­nan­cial sup­port to pri­vate schools if a re­vised law ban­ning them from mak­ing a profit is passed, state leg­is­la­tors said on Tues­day.

A draft amend­ment to the law on pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion aims to block schools from prof­it­ing from tu­ition fees for chil­dren el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive the coun­try’s nine years of com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion.

The rule change would mean schools that cater to the chil­dren of mi­grant work­ers and those from wealthy fam­i­lies would need to be en­tirely non­profit en­ter­prises, which some fear could lead to clo­sures.

“I hope the gov­ern­ment can pro­vide nec­es­sary guid­ance to en­sure pri­vate schools, par­tic­u­larly ones with good ed­u­ca­tional re­sources that have pro­duced a num­ber of tal­ented stu­dents, can keep de­vel­op­ing and mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion” to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, Zhou Tian­hong, a mem­ber of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, said in a ses­sion to dis­cuss the draft on Tues­day.

He added that local au­thor­i­ties should also help schools for mi­grant work­ers’ chil­dren to be­come non­profit, as they have played akey role in im­ple­ment­ing com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion and equal ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion na­tion­wide.

“The gov­ern­ment could pro­vide funds to these schools and take the costs of the schools into con­sid­er­a­tion when mak­ing the an­nual bud­get,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to data from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, about 10,000 pri­vate schools en­rolled more than 12 mil­lion stu­dents of com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion age last year.

The draft amend­ment was drawn up to com­ply with the Law on Com­pul­sory Ed­u­ca­tion, which states that ed­u­ca­tion from Grades 1 to 9, usu­ally ages 6 to 15, should be sup­ported by gov­ern­ment funds and free of charge for fam­i­lies, added WuHeng, an­other com­mit­tee mem­ber.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy direc­tor of the 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute, said abanon mak­ing a profit is un­der­stand­able con­sid­er­ing the un­bal­anced de­vel­op­ment of com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion na­tion­wide.

“For profit pri­vate schools can fo­cus on other ed­u­ca­tional phases, such as kinder­garten, high school or higher ed­u­ca­tion, to make a profit,” he said.

The amend­ment is due to be passed on Nov 7 and will likely come into ef­fect in Septem­ber, which means the schools af­fected will have less than a year to make the nec­es­sary changes.

The ef­fect on pri­vate schools for chil­dren from wealthy fam­i­lies is still un­clear.

A re­port on China’s in­ter­na­tional schools, re­leased in De­cem­ber, showed there were 256 so-called in­ter­na­tional schools as of last year.

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