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September 6, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

Home school based on ancients in illegal shadow

MEN Mu Tang, based on ancient Chinese teaching methods, is an illegal, privately run school and parents should send their children to government-licensed schools instead, the Shanghai Education Commission reiterated yesterday.

The unlicensed facility that operates in private villas has been closed by the authorities twice in the past five years, but it alters locations and continues to operate secretly.

The latest site, based in a suburban villa in Minhang District, came into the spotlight when neighbors blew the whistle earlier this week.

Education authorities so far have not taken action to close it because they need to work with the police and other agencies that have the right to carry out law enforcement.

The number of students attending the school has risen from 10 to 60 in five years due to rising demand for home schooling. The students range in age from four to 18 and spend most of their time studying by themselves and reciting Chinese classics, such as Confucius, mixed with some English-language works by Shakespeare. Children are not required to understand the texts because parents believe the practice can cultivate language and self-study abilities, as ancient Chinese teaching methods indicate. The school doesn't use official education textbooks.

It was set up in violation of the country's Compulsory Education Law, which states that all children must receive nine years of education at government-licensed schools. Meng Mu Tang doesn't have a government license and cannot issue a legal education certificate.

Home schooling is illegal, but it's hard for authorities to crack down, because the unlicensed school sits on private land that needs the owner's approval for entry. Moreover, the education law doesn't specify punishment for the school or parents who send their children there.


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