Moves on 'disorder' in private schools

BEIJING is to introduce nationwide regulations in a bid to improve the management of non-government schools which have mushroomed in recent years, a State Education Commission (SEC) official said.

Zhang Wen, an official from the SEC's Department of Policy and Law Affairs, was quoted by the official Xinhua (New China News Agency) on Monday as saying the lack of an efficient administrative system had caused 'disorder' in some of these schools.

While some charge very high tuition fees, they do not have proper facilities or qualified teaching staff, according to Ms Zhang.

The regulations, to be issued by the State Council before April 1995, would outline the basic principles for the establishment and operation of these 'private' schools, she said.

'Non-governmental schools have been helpful with the promotion of education,' Ms Zhang said.

But she maintained government regulation over their management was necessary in view of the exorbitant fees and 'disorders'.

K. H. Mok, lecturer in the Department of Public and Social Administration of the City University of Hong Kong, pointed out that although non-governmental schools constituted a small proportion of China's education, their existence was 'stimulating' and their impacts very significant.

According to latest SEC statistics, there are more than 60,000 non-governmental schools in China today.

They include some 16,900 kindergartens, 4,030 primary schools, 800 high schools, 200 vocational schools, nearly 1,000 colleges and more than 30,000 schools providing short-term job-training and other courses.

'In Mao's China, education is a means of indoctrination and control. Sociologists have been looking closely at the impact of these schools, which have their own curriculum and agenda, in the society at large,' said Mr Mok.

He contended that related regulations, providing a unified standard as far as academic achievement was concerned, should also take into consideration specific situations in localities in order not to jeopardise diversification.

He pointed out that non-governmental schools had led to the problem of disparity between the rich and poor.

An example he cited was a school in Beijing which had asked for a lump sum of 150,000 yuan (HK$136,500) to 180,000 yuan as registration fee and tuition of 4,000 yuan per month.