2017-07-10 11:50:17

A school in eastern China has been told to apologize for asking some 60 students with bad grades to drop out.

Teachers at Jiangshan International School in Laoling, a city in the eastern province of Shandong, reportedly tried to pursuade their worst-performing grade eight students to not return after the summer for their final year of middle school, local news portal iQilu.com reported Friday. “The teacher just told me not to go to school anymore — that by studying, I was just spending money,” one anonymous student was quoted as saying. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t fight with people or anything else.”

The next day, a group of parents had reportedly gathered at the school gate accompanied by officials from the local education bureau to demand a response.

Education experts and net users alike have criticized the school’s decision because it runs afoul of China’s compulsory education system, which requires children to stay in school through the end of grade nine.

The private school claims that 100 percent of its students manage to score enough points on the zhongkao, a standardized test taken at the end of grade nine, to enter high school. One of the school’s teachers told iQilu.com that these children wouldn’t be able to enroll in high school because they scored too low on their recent exams. “They might as well repeat grade eight again or transfer to another school,” they said.

At more than 10,000 yuan ($1,470) per year, Jiangshan’s tuition fee is expensive, given that public middle schools are free. The boarding school, founded two years ago, currently has around 1,700 students and teachers from grades one through nine. According to a recruitment leaflet, the school lists among the 10 reasons why parents should enroll their children that the school’s “advanced education principles” ensure that all children are treated equally.

A head teacher surnamed Zhang, who runs a public school in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, told Sixth Tone that in China’s less-developed regions, school administrators sometimes don’t run their institutions to the letter of the law. In 2014, five middle school students in a town in Hebei province were asked to leave school after picking a fight. The local education authority later told the school they had to accept the children back into class.

Wu Delong, an official in charge of private elementary and secondary schools at the Laoling municipal education bureau, told Sixth Tone that schools in the compulsory education system are not allowed to ask students to leave, and that Jiangshan had violated national regulations.

“The school has to accept all the students [when the semester begins] in September,” Wu said, adding that the bureau had ordered the school to apologize to the students, their parents, and society.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A ninth-grade student takes an exam at a middle school in Jilin, Jilin province, March 29, 2012. Ding Dong/IC)