Jiangmen is investing billions of yuan on more than a dozen new schools in anticipation of demand for quality education from immigrant families moving to the Greater Bay Area city, improving living standards and population growth following China’s abolition of the one-child policy.
At least 17 school projects are under construction in Jiangmen, with five set to open in September when the new school term starts, according to information compiled by real estate services provider Leju. When complete, all the schools will accommodate nearly 30,000 students.
Eleven of the new schools are concentrated in the core district of Pengjiang in the northeastern part of the city, followed by five in the adjoining Jianghai district and one in the western district of Enping.
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A three-year action plan for schools in Pengjiang district, issued on August 14, calls for an investment of 4.2 billion yuan (US$612 million) to construct and expand 15 campuses that will add more than 10,000 seats for “high-quality compulsory education”.
The city government initiated the project following the successful completion of a 1.8 billion yuan programme to build 17 schools in December 2018.
The new schools could meet new demand from the increase in the number of children as couples have more than one child, development of urban areas and immigrants from other provinces, said Ye Mingsi, a Jiangmen resident in her 20s.
Jiangmen’s population has increased by 180,000 since to 2010 to 4.63 million in 2019, government data shows.
The opening of new schools will alleviate the shortage of seats in popular schools, such as Jiangmen Zicha Elementary School and allow parents to enrol their kids in schools near their homes, said Huang Huaying, a Jiangmen resident in her 60s.
The opening of high-quality schools could also prevent the outflow of “good students” to the nearby cities of Zhongshan or Shunde, reflecting the Jiangmen city government’s efforts to raise the quality of its educational institutions, she added.
These schools also have the potential of attracting residents of villages surrounding Jiangmen who could relocate to areas near these new schools to give their children better education as the standard of living improves.
With regards to private schools being expensive, Huang said they are likely to have little difficulty in filling up the places amid an increase in living standards.
Even the operators of new schools seem to be confident that parents will be willing to pay a premium for private education.
The tuition fees of the Jiangmen campus of Guangdong Experimental High School, which opens next month, start at 41,800 yuan a year, according to its WeChat account. The fees do not include meals, uniforms and boarding. This makes it more expensive than its campuses in Shunde and Foshan, two other cities in the Greater Bay Area.
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