China's top economic planner said Wednesday the government will ban the unauthorized collection of kindergarten fees, its latest bid to crack down on the excessively high costs of preschool education.
"The move aims to promote scientific development of preschool education, regulate kindergarten fee collection and protect the legitimate interests of both the students and the kindergartens," the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement.
Kindergartens are prohibited from collecting sponsorships, contribution fees, school building fees, compensation fees for educational costs or other fees from parents as a precondition to enrollment, the statement said, citing a rule recently issued by the NDRC, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.
They are also forbidden to collect extra fees in the name of organizing interest groups, learning workshops, specialty training programs or parent-student groups, according to the statement.
Fees charged by kindergartens, except those for education, child care and accommodation, should be collected on a voluntary basis and publicized regularly, it said.
Parents have complained about expensive fees charged by even public kindergartens as demand for preschool education has outpaced the development of kindergartens.
It was reported in 2010 that parents in major cities often stood in lines for days to get spots for their children.
The central government budgeted 3 billion yuan (476 million U.S. dollars) in 2011 for "supporting the development of rural preschool education in central and western regions and ethnic minority areas," according to the Ministry of Finance.
Kindergartens must make items and standards of all fees public and list them clearly in their recruiting notices, the NDRC statement said.
It urged local authorities to strengthen regulation of kindergarten fee collection and punish irregularities severely.