Protest Turns Violent Over Plan to Relocate Students
Hundreds of parents gathered Saturday in front of local schools and government buildings in the city of Leiyang in Central China’s Hunan province to protest the city’s order to relocate some students from public schools to a private boarding school.
The protests turned violent, leading to dozens of arrests. Some protestors threw water and beer bottles, bricks and firecrackers at police officers and local officials, and more than 30 police were wounded in the clash, police said (link in Chinese).
Parents complained of sharply higher school fees and protested that unsafe levels of formaldehyde had been detected in the private school’s classrooms and dormitories after incomplete renovations. Pictures and videos posted on social media showed protestors holding banners saying things like: “No private schools and give me back nine-year compulsory education” and “We will not live in toxic dormitories, and we will not enter toxic classrooms.”
Leiyang is one of many cities in China that are trying to address the problem of oversized classes. The incident was triggered by a provincial order to cut class sizes at public schools to a maximum of 66 in 2018 by relocating some fifth- and sixth-graders to a private campus. Years of rapid urbanization have resulted in a disparity in how educational resources are allocated. Students flock to schools in cities, causing the schools to expand class sizes. Overcrowded classes raise the risks of declining quality of education and pose safety concerns.
A student adjusts a house plant that he has placed under his bunk in between two trays of activated charcoal. The item are supposed to absorb the formaldehyde present in the recently renovated dormitory. Photo: Liang Yingfei/Caixin
In Leiyang, oversized classes with more than 56 students accounted for 40% of the classes in the city’s public school system, according to a government document.
The city’s education department said in an open letter to parents that the plan to transfer children to the private school is “the fastest and most effective way to eliminate oversized classes in the short term,” which is urgently needed.
Leiyang has been known for centuries in China as “Paper City,” the hometown of Cai Lun, the inventor of papermaking technology. In modern times it built a reputation as a major coal producer. Its urban population more than tripled to 580,000 in 2017 from 170,300 in 2002.
Parents said they were angered at the decision partly because the private school would charge extra fees even though the Leiyang government promised in June that there would be no higher fees for those transferred to the new campus, a branch of a middle school affiliated with Hunan Normal University.
But a parent told Caixin that the private school actually charged more than 10 times as much as the public schools.
According to a list of fees Caixin obtained from some parents, the students have to pay about 2,800 yuan ($410) each semester for room and board, books, linens and uniform fees. Several parents told Caixin that they had to pay no more than 200 yuan for each semester in public school.
A parent with the surname Wang told Caixin that parents got notice before the school orientation day Aug. 28 stating that all they needed to pay was 1,500 yuan for room and board. Only later did they learn that the actual fees total about 2,800 yuan.
As Saturday’s protest turned violent, 46 people were arrested by police. But police said only one of those is a parent and the rest are social idlers, including one suspected thief and six persons with criminal backgrounds.
In a statement on its official social media account, Leiyang police said it detained the people for disturbing public order and damaging police facilities during a protest outside a police station.
Leiyang also made news in June when it acknowledged that it didn’t have enough money to pay the salaries of civil servants, including public school teachers, because of a shortage of funds in government coffers. Leiyang government said it has failed to collect as much annual revenue as projected since 2012 because of the continued decline of coal-related industries.
Jul 10 19:00
Jul 10 18:54
Jul 10 17:22
Jul 10 16:31
Jul 10 13:03
Jul 09 19:19
Jul 09 19:10
Jul 09 18:49
Jul 09 16:40
Jul 08 18:10
Jul 08 15:57
Jul 08 13:46
Jul 07 18:50
- 1For Electric-Vehicle Maker Nio, Government Tie-Up Has Its Benefits
- 2Tencent’s PUBG Mobile Game Hits $3 Billion Milestone
- 3Zoom Investment Grew From Li Ka-shing’s Disgust at Pricey Video Gear, Says His Tech-Savvy Companion
- 4In Depth: CATL Loses Electric-Car Battery Crown as Foreign Firms Muscle In
- 5Trending in China: Outrage Ensues as Updated U.S. Student Visa Policies Force International Students into a Dilemma
- 1Power To The People: Pintec Serves A Booming Consumer Class
- 2Largest hotel group in Europe accepts UnionPay
- 3UnionPay mobile QuickPass debuts in Hong Kong
- 4UnionPay International launches premium catering privilege U Dining Collection
- 5UnionPay International’s U Plan has covered over 1600 stores overseas