STUDENTS AT a high school in Anyang county, Central China's Henan province, are reportedly charged 75 yuan ($11) per semester to pay for the dishwashers working in the school canteen. In

response to parents' complaints, the school said the decision was approved by the local educational authorities, so the fee can be collected on behalf of the canteen operator as long as the students are willing to pay. Beijing News questions students' willingness to pay such a fee, and says such fees are not included in the relevant educational regulations.

It is not the first time that a school has charged a so-called dishwashing fee. Three years or so ago, some high school students in North China's Hebei province were "voluntarily" required to pay such a fee, yet got their money back after the media reported the story.

Their peers in the Henan high school have not been so lucky, apparently. They are "voluntarily" required to pay the school dishwashers, even though there is no such a fee listed in the relevant educational regulations.

And it is doubtful that the school collects the fee for the canteen operator; although whether there has been some trading of power for money in the outsourcing of the dining service remains unclear. Sadly, many local schools have been granted the authority to solicit similar fees on behalf of certain bookstores and milk companies that they cooperate with.

The bigger irony is that the Henan educational authorities approved the charge on the basis of students' "willingness". Basically monopolized, the school canteen business seems to leave little room for "voluntary payment", especially when it comes to such dishwashing fees and others of this kind. Local educational bureaus are obliged to regulate potential overcharging by schools, not endorse it.

(China Daily USA 02/29/2016 page11)


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