Schools are exploiting parents, report says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 July, 2005, 12:00am

Guangdong schools are taking advantage of competition for limited places by milking parents out of millions of yuan every year, the latest audit report by the provincial government shows.

The report, delivered by provincial Auditor-General Zeng Shouxi to the Guangdong People's Congress Standing Committee on Tuesday, confirmed that schools were heavily dependent on 'school selection fees' and 'donations'.

The audit, which covered the accounts of 66 primary and secondary schools from 2002 to last year, showed that they collected as much as 753 million yuan from parents in recruitment fees - 54 per cent of the schools' income.

It has become commonplace on the mainland for parents to pay entry fees to schools in the hope of getting the best education for their sons and daughters.

The fees or donations - normally no less than 10,000 yuan each - are legal but have been criticised by parents and educators worried about the potential for abuse and corruption among teachers and school administrators.

According to the audit report, at least 10 schools had deposited the fees collected in private bank accounts in attempts to evade official scrutiny.

Schools are allowed to collect the fees as a supplement to their normal tuition fees but half of the fees collected must be handed over to the government to help fund schools which need financial support. Schools are not allowed to use the fees or donations to pay teachers' wages.

Chen Hanxiao , secretary of the Discipline Inspection Committee of the Guangdong Education Bureau, was quoted by the Yangcheng Evening News as admitting that the present system lacked transparency.

A Guangdong Audit Office official said schools had collected fees and donations from parents for years but this was the first time the practice had been audited.