CHINA Local authorities quick to rein in off-campus tutoring businesses

CHINA

Local authorities quick to rein in off-campus tutoring businesses

China Daily

08:59, August 27, 2021

Primary students do homework at an after-school care center in Yuping Dong autonomous county in Southwest China's Guizhou province, Feb 27, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

Local governments across China have started to roll out measures to implement a guideline issued by the central authorities last month aimed at reducing students' workload.

Regions, including Beijing, Shaanxi province and Guangdong province, have issued their own regulations to rein in the off-campus tutoring sector and improve the quality of school education.

They took this action after the new policy was announced by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

According to a notice issued by the Shaanxi Education Department on Aug 4, tutoring institutions in the province must stop curriculum-based training for kindergarten pupils, primary school and middle school students during the summer vacation.

All curriculum-based tutoring institutions should register as nonprofit organizations and complete a new review to obtain a business license and operating permit, the notice stated.

The local government has opened hotlines for the public to report misconduct by such institutions and has launched a campaign to investigate and punish violations, the notice added.

In Guangdong, the government has banned tutoring institutions from disclosing the personal information of students and parents. Such institutions are also prohibited from inundating parents and students with marketing phone calls and text messages.

A recent notice issued by the Guangdong administration stated that local authorities should hold to account institutions that offer tutoring services "in the name of education consulting or education technology services".

On Aug 18, the Beijing municipal government issued a similar guideline aimed at easing the academic burden for students and the financial pressure faced by parents in paying for their children's after-school education.

In line with the central guideline, the one issued in Beijing bans tutoring companies from raising money through initial public offerings. Listed companies and overseas entities are prohibited from investing in or acquiring stakes in companies offering curriculum-based after-school tutoring for primary and middle school students.

No curriculum-based tutoring should be given during weekends, summer and winter vacations, and public holidays, the guideline states. On weekdays, offline curriculum-based tutoring should end before 8:30 pm and online tutoring should finish before 9 pm.

Tutoring businesses are seeking to transform their activities to comply with the new policy.

After the policy was announced, New Oriental Education & Technology Group, a leading provider of private educational services in China, launched new consulting services, off-campus daycare, nursery services and training in art, sports, science and technology.

In Beijing, Net-Ease Youdao, the education unit of NetEase Inc, is targeting growth in adult education, non-curriculum tutoring and smart education devices.

Firstleap Education, a subsidiary of TAL Education Group, has launched new services in oral expression, art appreciation, art performance and reading.

Dong Shengzu, a senior researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Educational Sciences, said the non-curriculum training market is far smaller than that for curriculum training.

If tutoring businesses all start to transform the way in which they operate, the market will quickly become overcrowded and might lead to new regulations, he said.

Tutoring companies can work with schools to offer affordable after-class services for students, but some of these companies might have to switch to other business, he added.

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