Recently, a worn-down hutong passageway was put up for sale at RMB 1.5 million (USD $227,000). Unfit for living, one might wonder why anyone would bid for it, not to mention buy it for such an outrageous price. When you realize the No. 29 Daer Hutong is in the district of Beijing First Experimental Primary School. The buyer of said hutong could register their household (hukou) and have their child study at the highly ranked primary school in Xicheng district.
The current “vicinity” policy where school places are given based on address was first introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2014, creating a competition for the homes surrounding top ranked schools. Needless to say, home prices have been skyrocketing ever since.
In April this year, Beijing’s individual districts released new policies regarding primary and middle school admissions. Haidian district has adopted a “six years one seat” policy, which means that a single address can only be used for one school seat every six years. Xicheng district requires that the hukou registrant has been living at the address for a certain number of years before a child qualifies for a seat.
Did we mention the above only applies if you have Beijing hukou? Shijingshan district has ruled that Beijing resident permit holders (“green card”) no longer qualify for education as Beijingers do. Fengtai district requires employment and housing status proof if applicants don’t have Beijing hukou.
Competition is Tough
To give an idea of why property prices have risen out of control and why even rental costs have gone up (for non-Beijingers), let’s look at some statistics. In 2015, Beijing’s primary schools had 160,000 registered students, of which 100,000 were local Beijingers, and 60,000 kids did not have Beijing hukou. Based on the China Education Newspaper statistics, the top 25 primary schools are in Dongcheng, Xicheng, and Haidian districts, which only accepted 5,000 students.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons