You are here:   Home/ Development News/ Highlights

Reforms promote education equality

Shanghai Daily, September 2, 2014 Adjust font size:

As Chinese students filed into the classroom for the start of the new school year yesterday, parents were applauding a new set of reforms aimed at promoting educational equality.

For years, the public has criticized primary and middle school enrollment as “unequal and lacking of transparency.”

Eager to ensure a bright future for their children, wealthier parents often go to great lengths to get their child into first-class schools. From shelling out tens of thousands of yuan for “school selection fees” to showering school officials with lavish gifts, the competition for enrollment is fierce in China, where education is among a parent’s highest priority for their child.

But this year, a set of reforms aims to level the playing field.

With the central government urging reasonable allocation of resources, it is enacting a new set of rules that will help schools meet a higher standard and curb arbitrary “school selection fees.”

It is also enacting a new regulation which limits students to schools near home.

Waving goodbye to his son at the gate of Beijing Shijia Primary School yesterday, Liu Changsong said the reforms are a refreshing change.

Previously, in order to secure a seat for their child at Beijing Shijia Primary School parents had to know someone, have influence or gain guanxi by giving gifts and money.

With recent anti-corruption activities creating a hypersensitivity to activities such as taking money for seats in schools, enrollment has been more open this year.

“I never thought of sending my child to an outstanding primary school without paying extra,” he said.

Migrant workers

Parents, including migrants, in Beijing as well as Shandong and Hebei provinces where reforms are in force this year, said no money or gifts were needed in signing their children up for top schools, as long as they lived in the school district.

Meanwhile, first-class schools are also assigned to help raise overall education standards by regularly pooling teaching resources and sending instructors to “weaker” schools. In some cases, the schools simply join first-class schools in order to better allocate resources.

For instance, Shijia Primary School has five branches and more than 500 teachers and 5,000 students. Wang Huan, the school’s headmaster, said teaching quality should be unified in all Shijia schools.

However, wealthy families are still finding ways around the system. In some cases they go as far as buying an apartment in the district where their desired schools are located. Real estate agents have cashed in on school-district housing, charging high prices for apartments near good schools.

Experts suggest a reasonable and gradual shift in the demarcation of school districts so each district has at least one outstanding school.

Bookmark and Share

Related News & Photos