• Some schools are better than others, prompting parents to move near better schools.

Some schools are better than others, prompting parents to move near better schools. (Photo : Getty Images)

A debate about China's school-district housing system has been sparked recently after an 11-square-meter house in central Beijing sold for 5.3 million yuan ($814,600), roughly 460,000 yuan per square meter, because it is located near a good school, as reported by the Global Times.

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In the country where parents are known to get competitive over their children's education, the government has a school-district system in place wherein children are enrolled in schools located near their homes.

The government policy has led to parents buying apartments near schools known to have favorable reputation.

The house that brought to light the issue is located near Beijing No. 2 Experimental Primary School, known as one of the country's top primary schools.

A 11.4-square-meter bungalow, the house can be found in a narrow alley in central Beijing.

As of February, the average price for a house in Beijing that was not newly built was 41,586 yuan per square meter, according to a report by The Mirror.

"It is meaningless to buy a school-district house at such a high price," said Yi Xianrong, a real estate agent, adding that the phenomenon is a direct result of the government's policies.

"Generally, the price of houses in good school districts is about 20 to 30 percent higher than the average housing price," said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at the Centaline Property Research Center.

According to a real estate agent surnamed Wang, the prices of houses in desirable school districts are less affected by changes in the real estate market, with people attaching a lot of value on their child's education.

"Most school-district housing buyers are second-time homebuyers. They sold their houses or apartments in the suburbs and moved back to the city for their children," said Wang.

"Many bought school-district houses and completed the household registration process three years before their children reach school age," said Wang, mentioning that some schools require that children have lived in a certain school district for a certain period of time.

Many wonder if the high price of school-district housing is making quality educational resources harder for lower-income families.

To combat the problem, the government has been pushing for several education reforms, like having well-known schools set up branches in different districts.