High school tuition in a poverty village is 95.5% of income – Tingyue Laoban

The following was posted by Tingyue Laoban 1 (听月老班1) on a BBS hosted by Sina.com (translated by CDT). The original, including a scan of the school receipt, is here.

High school tuition in a poverty village

Qianshan village in Anhui province is one of the 2006 national poverty villages. But the tuition is astonishingly high in such a depressed place. The picture of a receipt I attached below is just part of it. I listed detailed items, from which you can clearly see that many items are legally prohibited by the national government (the list below is for one semester for a high school freshman):

Items in the receipt (total amount: 1130 Yuan a semester):

Tuition and fees: 700

Lodging: 60

Workbooks: 30

Parents fee: 13

Books and supplies: 327

Items not in the receipt (total amount: 630 Yuan a semester):

Overtime fee for Saturday class: 70

Overtime fee for Sunday class: 60

School uniform: 200

Military uniform: 200

Military training: 100

Total amount: 1760 Yuan a semester

In previous years, students were allowed to take rice from home and were only charged a small firewood fee. But now students are not permitted to bring their own rice and have to buy meals from the school. This fee, which is not included in the list above, adds another heavy burden to them.

Now let’s take a look at the real income of a rural family.

In a family of four (parents and two children), since the children were usually born before the change in land policy, they are also distributed with farm land. The average per-capita farm land is 1.2 mu (including the dry land and the wet land), so a family of four owns 4.8 mu farm land. Given the highest possible annual production in this area (700 kg per mu), theoretically the annual rice production of a family is 6720 kg (two seasons). However, given the low productivity of the dry land, and the low output of the early season rice, the real output will be approximately 5500 kg. The current grain price in Qianshan is 150 Yuan per kg. After leaving about 1000 kg for family use, what a family can earn from selling the grain is 6750 Yuan. This is not the final earning, however, since you have to deduct the cost of the pesticide, the fertilizer, and the cost of fighting drought and flood. After that, what the family has will be no more than 4000 Yuan.

If the older child is in high school, it will cost the family 3520 Yuan a year (1760 Yuan/semester). If the younger child is in elementary school, the cost will be at least 300 Yuan a year. This family’s annual education fee amounts to 3820 Yuan, which is 95.5% of the real income. The whole family is only left with 180 Yuan for one year!!!

I don’t know if the education fees in other rural schools are this high, but I have to ask a question: is the tuition in this poverty village, 95.5% of the family earning, too high? Farmers are follow the “imperial edict” that even the greatest bitterness should not reach the children, and even the greatest poverty should not interfere with education. Yet it is this belief that encourages the unreasonable tuition.

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