school enrollment fees

3 11 2010

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The education ministry said it would « tackle the problem in the next three to five years. »

According to the measures, public schools will not be permitted to use « experimental classes » as an enrollment lure or organize special training courses to select students.

« This will help prevent the attempt by some schools to collect illegal charges, » said Xiong Bingqi, an educational expert and deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, a Beijing-based private non-profit organization on educational policy research.

The ministry also ordered local authorities to « equally allocate educational resources, » including excellent teachers.

« Schools must be open in enrollment information, » it said.

It added that efforts should be made to « narrow the gap between excellent and average schools, reasonably deploy teaching resources and share excellent educational resources. »

Under the new measures, local authorities will be required to support the development of private schools on the precondition that the supply of public schools was ensured, it said, adding that the sound development of private schools could « satisfy various demands of students. »

The ministry said these measures were conducive to ensuring school-aged children have access to quality compulsory education, which was part of the country’s educational target by 2020, as announced in July.

Xiong noted that enhancing the quality of compulsory education would help put an end to charging school enrollment fees.

He also pointed out a profit chain behind school enrollment fees. »Some local governments try to save educational funds for other uses by encouraging schools to charge extra fees, so strict monitoring and inspection should be launched.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, issued a circular in September which ordered the monitoring of education charges across the country.

The educational ministry has vowed to reinforce the monitoring system and « severely punish those involved in illegal charging fees. »

The ministry also reminded parents not to « blindly select schools for children, » which, however, was a serious problem in China where parents willingly paid to secure seats for children in excellent schools.

Chi Hong, the mother of an 11-year-old boy in Beijing, said, « Considering the imbalanced teaching resources, I had to follow the trend and pay for a space in a good school for my son. »

China has taken harsh measures to eliminate the phenomenon of charging enrollment fees by schools with better teaching resources, a move seen as a « heavy blow » to the education sector.

The measures, announced in a statement by the Ministry of Education on Monday, requires all public primary and junior high schools to standardize enrollment procedures and improve enrollment policies.

According to China’s Compulsory Education Law, Chinese children are entitled to nine years of free education, covering primary and junior high schools. However, some schools often charged various fees to seek profits.

The ministry statement reads, due to the difference in quality among schools and a shortage of excellent schools as compared to actual demand, the problem of « enrollment fees » has been found to be widespread, particularly in big cities.
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Rare bone disease

20 10 2010

A rare and incurable endemic bone disease is posing a health risk to about 170,000 residents in a remote region in southwest China’s Tibet, a medical survey has found.

At least 14,662 people have been diagnosed with Kaschin-Beck disease in eleven counties in Qamdo prefecture, one of the most seriously affected regions, according to the survey conducted by local health authorities. The patients usually develop thick and deformed joints, which eventually prevents them from working.

Doctors say the cause of the disease remains unknown. Some suspect that a certain fungus contained in barley, a staple food in the plateau, is to blame. Low iodine intake may be another cause.

The local government has been promoting relocation as a way to prevent the spread of the disease.

In the past five years, about 90 million yuan (or 13.55 million U.S.dollars) has been spent on the relocation program and nearly 20,000 residents have been moved out of the region. meeting vhiew meiose seowgbah

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pursuit of sex education

15 09 2010

Don’t be surprised if you see live demonstrations on how to use condoms at Chinese schools. As students become increasingly open to sex education, such courses are proving to be a hit in many parts of China.

Students at Nanjing Normal University (NNU) virtually had to « fight for » access to extracurricular courses on sexual health when the new semester began earlier this month, after demand for the class exceeded to sex and some of them even passed on their newly acquired knowledgeexpectation.

Those who attended enjoyed learning about and discussing topics related to their friends and classmates, according to media reports.

At Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, the students were amused by the demonstration on how to put on a condom, in which a banana was used as a prop. They also took part in courtship rituals and were taught how to start a healthy relationship without engaging in unsafe sex.

« We received practical information, such as reproductive health and the prevention of HIV/AIDS, which is necessary for single young people nowadays, » the Yangtze Evening News quoted a NNU coed as having said.

In Shanghai, even younger children have been targeted. In August last year, a sex education camp for those aged between 8 and 13 tried to answer questions such as « Where do I come from? » for its curious participants.

Although the program received a cold reception in the city, where members of only 18 families applied to attend, it led to lively public debate and raised awareness of sex education among many Chinese parents.

Chinese health and education experts have been calling for a shift in the focus of sex education from married couples to single youths, most of whom suffer from a lack of knowledge because Chinese parents are too reluctant, or embarrassed, to teach their children about sex.

According to a nationwide survey released in May, 60 percent of the 22,288 single young people polled on the mainland, aged between 15 and 24, are open to premarital sex and 22.4 percent of the respondents admitted to having taken part in sexual intercourse.

In contrast to their tolerant attitudes, only 4.4 percent of the respondents had correct knowledge about sexual health, while 14.4 percent were aware of HIV transmission and prevention.

The lack of knowledge has led to unsafe sexual practices, accidental pregnancies, HIV infections and other sexually transmitted diseases across the country, the survey found.

More than half admitted not having used contraceptives during their first sexual encounter and, among females, 21.3 percent accidentally became pregnant, of whom 91 percent resorted to having an abortion.

UN official lauds

15 09 2010

The United Nations’ climate chief has hailed China’s efforts to improve the prospects of a climate summit in Mexico later this year by hosting a crucial round of talks in Tianjin next month.

« Hosting the negotiations in Tianjin, the last formal stop before Cancun is an important gesture by China, » Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told China Daily.

Figueres, who was appointed to the post in May, finalized preparations for the Oct 4-9 meeting in the northern port city of Tianjin during a visit to Beijing last week.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said China would work with other countries and the UN to push sustainable development when he met Figueres on Friday.

Young-Woo Park, regional director and representative of Asia and the Pacific with the UN Environment Programme, also welcomed the Chinese government’s initiative last week.

« Regardless of how Tianjin contributes to the Cancun summit, organizing the event already sends a clear signal to both the international community and the Chinese people of how seriously China’s government is taking the climate issue, » he told China Daily.

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Negotiators from 194 nations will gather in Cancun, Mexico, in November to try to build on the Copenhagen Accord signed last December to agree on a legally binding treaty limiting global emissions of greenhouse gases during the next decade. This follows on from the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

While calling for more efforts from both industrialized and developing countries, Figueres said governments needed to « exercise some flexibility » to reach agreement and uphold the principle of transparency.

« It is in their interests to be very practical, very pragmatic and take very concrete and firm steps forward in Cancun, » she said.

Lessons from the Copenhagen summit suggest that all countries should adhere to the principle of « transparency and inclusion », and the UNFCCC was working closely with the Mexican government to ensure that, Figueres said.

« It is unavoidable in international negotiations that a small number of countries will hold discussions among themselves, » she said, before adding that it was vital that the process should be as inclusive as possible.

« You must ensure that other nations can express their interests and communicate back what is being discussed in the small rooms. »

This year has seen a gradual integration and understanding of what countries are trying to include in a new climate treaty, according to Figueres.

Among them, she said, were « operational pillars » including the creation of a climate fund, technology transfer mechanisms and decisions on how to support efforts to slow down deforestation.

She also noted that support for highly vulnerable countries, such as small islands and the least developed nations, was vital.

However, climate experts were not overly optimistic about Cancun.

« Countries have become more practical after Copenhagen, » said Wu Changhua, the China president of the Climate Group. « Tianjin will be a meeting where nations consolidate their consensus. »

How the US will approach Cancun and the prospects of Washington passing climate legislation were also major factors, said Wu.

Cancun will be less about reaching a binding treaty than moving forward on operational decisions, such as funding and the transfer of technology from industrialized nations to developing countries to deal with climate change, Figueres said.

Of specific importance will be whether industrial nations met the pledge to transfer billions of dollars to developing nations, she said.

Rich nations promised in Copenhagen to give $30 billion over three years, with an eventual goal of $100 billion by 2020.

The Tianjin conference will be critical in allowing countries « to begin to identify what is already ripe for adoption (in Cancun) … and what are those issues that require further conversation, » Figueres said.

Bonjour tout le monde !

15 09 2010

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