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Kindergarten fees set to rise'

By Li Wenfang  (China Daily)

08:22, July 12, 2012

Kindergartens receiving subsidies from the government, companies and public institutions in Guangzhou, known as public kindergartens, will see their tuition fees rise 2.89 times, with a ban on the so-called sponsorship fee reiterated.

The move is included in documents on the classification, enrollment and fee adjustments of kindergartens, which was released for public discussion by the education bureau of the city on Tuesday.

Kindergartens recognized as provincial-level will be allowed to charge 1,050 yuan ($165) per child a month for day care services, up from 270 yuan, while city-level kindergartens will be allowed to charge 729 yuan, up from 220 yuan.

Children going to these two types of kindergartens in the coming autumn total about 6,000. Guangzhou had 1,548, kindergartens, including 396 public kindergartens, last year.

According to a recent survey, the average cost of caring for a child at public kindergartens stands at 1,400 yuan a month, while at provincial-level kindergartens its 2,204 yuan, said Jiang Dong, deputy director of the education bureau of Guangzhou. The existing fees were set in 2000.

Public kindergartens have been charging parents not belonging to the organizations subsidizing the respective kindergartens so-called sponsorship fees.

In the scheme, which will be in place on September 1 and will affect only new recruits, parents should bear no more than 49 percent of the cost.

To prevent privately run kindergartens from following the fee hikes, authorities said they will strengthen supervision.

The new scheme requires kindergartens run by education bureaus and departments of the city government to allocate 70 percent of their enrollment quotas for the public by means such as a lottery next year, 80 percent in 2014 and no less than 90 percent in 2016.

Many people prefer public kindergartens, which, they believe, offer better safety and health conditions, and with only one child in the family, many are willing to pay hefty fees, said Peng Peng, a senior researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences.

By allocating some of the quotas through a lottery, public kindergartens will provide equal opportunities to the public. By adjusting tuition fees in line with the current price level and banning so-called sponsorship fees, the arrangement allows charges to become fairer and more transparent, Peng said.

The Guangzhou government should also expand the share of public kindergartens and it should consider putting pre-school education in the compulsory education rank, he said.

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